Monday, August 31, 2015

Niklas Backstrom—history repeats itself

Once again, it’s announced that during the off-season, Niklas Backstrom has been dealing with in injury that has plagued him since during the season. This time around, it’s an injury to his right elbow that has resulted in nerve damage. According to various reports, Backstrom suffered this injury during a preseason game last season and had surgery on that elbow in May. 

I wrote in one of my first blog articles about Backstrom and his future with the Minnesota Wild, (Does Niklas Backstrom have a future with the Minnesota Wild?) about how Backstrom has entered training camp coming off surgery he had to have in the off-season. 

Niklas Backstrom
Well, this preseason (as training camp for the Wild is quickly approaching) is going to be no different. Backstrom has been dealing with an injury to his right elbow that occurred during the preseason and since suffering the injury, has been dealing with nerve damage. 

Backstrom gave an interview back in June with a Finnish TV station and stated this:

“It was a bit scary situation...It happened pretty fast. All of a sudden two fingers are not working. Even in rest, two fingers were motionless. I couldn’t use my right hand to drive a car or to hold a phone. There’s a lot of stuff that’s happened during my career, but this really made me stop and think. You need your hand for the rest of your career. I’m right-handed.”

This injury prevented the Wild from buying Backstrom out of the final year of his contract. (A second buyout window was opened for the Wild when Erik Haula filed for arbitration, but the Wild were not able to take advantage of that buyout window because Backstrom hasn't been cleared medically). 

According to Puck Daddy's Sean Leahy, Backstrom's injury and sports hernia surgery last summer prevented the Wild from using their second compliance buy out on him last summer. For the second straight year, Backstrom has been able to "handcuff" the Wild and preventing the Wild from buying him out. 

What are the Wild's options at this point with Backstrom (who is in the final year of his contract and is owed about $4 million this season)? At this point, the Wild's best option is to put Backstrom on long-term injury researve. He has a no-move clause in his contract, so he can't be sent down to the minors. When (and if) he's cleared to play, he'll end up being the third goalie behind Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper. 

This will be the LAST season the Wild have to deal with this drama with Niklas Backstrom, his injuries, and off-season surgeries. Hopefully, the Wild will let him walk after this season.