ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Wild re-signed backup goaltender Josh Harding to a one-year, US$750,000 contract Friday.
The team made the announcement on the first day of NHL free agency, putting a dependable goalie behind Niklas Backstrom. The 27-year-old Harding missed all of last season with torn ligaments in his right knee, leaving his future with the team in doubt.
Veteran netminder Jose Theodore was brought in and played well, but Theodore’s desire to compete for a full-time starting job made the decision easier to retain Harding. Theodore signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers on Friday.
Harding went 9-12 with a 3.05 goals-against average during the 2009-10 season. He has started 65 games for the Wild in five seasons. He was a second-round pick of the Wild in 2002 and has spent his entire NHL career with Minnesota, going 28-39-4 with a 2.66 goals-against average.
Another one of the Wild’s unrestricted free agents, left wing Andrew Brunette, signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. Forwards Chuck Kobasew, John Madden and Antti Miettinen are the other notable Wild veterans who became unrestricted free agents. None is expected to be re-signed by the Wild.
Also Friday, the Wild cut ties with defenceman Cam Barker after he cleared waivers, and he signed a two-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers. The Wild traded their 2009 first-round draft pick, defenceman Nick Leddy, and defenceman Kim Johnsson to the Blackhawks for Barker in February 2010.
Later Friday, the Wild signed Drew Bagnall and Jed Ortmeyer, to two-year, two-way contracts, and Kyle Medvec, to a two-year, entry-level contract.
Bagnall, a defenceman, and Ortmeyer, a right wing, helped lead the Wild’s affiliate, the Houston Aeros, to the American Hockey League finals.
Medvec, a Twin Cities area native of starred at Apple Valley High School, was a fourth-round draft pick by the Wild in 2006. The defenceman just completed a four-year college career at Vermont.