The injury to Josh Harding had really put a shot of panic into the Minnesota Wild, who invited Ilya Bryzgalov back to camp on Wednesday and then on Thursday, finally came to terms with restricted free agent Darcy Kuemper.
Kuemper and the Wild agreed on a 2-year deal, worth $2.5 million, in a one-way deal, which guarantees money for the 24-year old keeper.
Last season, with the injury troubles that the Minnesota Wild were going through, Kuemper was a breath of fresh air in the crease, doing his best to keep the team's playoff hopes alive, which he was able to do successfully. In 26 appearances, Kuemper won 12 games and earned 2 shutouts for 28 points, which was good enough for 42nd among all goalies in pool scoring.
With Harding now expected to miss 2-to-3 months on the sidelines with his broken foot, this should give Kuemper adequate time in behind Niklas Backstrom and in turn, possibly even solidify a spot in the crease going forward.
It is also worth mentioning, going into camp, long before the new contract was signed, the Wild coaching staff did think a lot about Kuemper to say that there is a 3-way race for the starting position in Minnesota, so it may not stop at the back-up job.
Right now, I'm moving a lot of Harding's points over to Kuemper, making the newly-signed keeper into a reasonable late-round goalie selection, if needed.
The Minnesota Wild are not really in need of any fancy salary cap math, as their salary cap hit isn't big enough for many worries. However, the Wild have come out and said that since Harding's injury is a non-hockey related reason for being out of the line-up, they have suspended him without pay, which will not count against the team's cap hit, until the suspension is lifted.
Now, the Wild will have a goaltending tandem of Backstrom and Kuemper, in behind a projected roster of 15 other players, and their collective cap hit would be $56.1 million. The team has spots to give, six in total and they have $12.9 million left in space to fill those spots. Absolutely no panic here.