No player has been more important to the Minnesota Wild’s 20-11-5 start than goaltender Josh Harding.
Minnesota will have to play down a key contributor for at least three games as the Wild placed Harding, 29, on injured reserve Wednesday so he can make an adjustment in his medication for multiple sclerosis.
“Over the next week, Josh will make a minor adjustment to his treatment protocol,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a release by the team. “Josh feels great and he looks forward to rejoining our team for our game in Winnipeg on Dec. 27.”
Harding was one of the bigger unknowns for Minnesota heading into the season, but he’s proven vital for the team, which lost Niklas Backstrom to a lower-body injury early in the season. Harding became an every-game starter and is tied for second in the NHL with 18 wins. He leads the league with a 1.51 goals-against average, is second with a .939 save percentage and has a league-high three shutouts.
The Wild recalled Johan Gustafsson from Iowa of the American Hockey League to replace Harding.
If Harding, who made 29 saves and kept Vancouver scoreless in the shootout in Minnesota’s 3-2 win on Tuesday night, is able to return on Dec. 27, he will only miss three games.
Harding won the Masterton Trophy last season when he was limited to five regular-season games as he adjusted to treat his MS.
Gustafsson, 21, is in his first season in the United States after coming over from his native Sweden. He was recalled earlier this season but hasn’t appeared in an NHL game yet. The 2010 sixth-round draft pick is 4-4-0 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .898 save percentage in nine games with Iowa.