Two days before the opening of training camp, the Minnesota Wild have lost a goaltender for the foreseeable future.
Minnesota announced on Wednesday that goaltender Josh Harding suffered a fractured foot and will be out indefinitely. Harding won’t need surgery to repair the fracture, the team said in a statement.
In response, the Wild invited Ilya Bryzgalov to training camp on a pro tryout. The team announced the move on Twitter and said Bryzgalov will be with the team when camp opens on Friday.
Bryzgalov, 34, was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline last season and played in 12 regular-season games, going 7-1-3 with a .911 save percentage and 2.12 goals-against average. Bryzgalov, a 12-year veteran, played in nine playoff games for Minnesota with a 2.63 goals-against average and .885 save percentage as the Wild lost in the second round of the playoffs.
Harding, 30, missed the end of last season as he dealt with complications of multiple sclerosis. He was one of the NHL’s top goaltenders early last season when he had an 18-7-3 record, a .933 save percentage and a 1.65 goals-against average, but Harding’s last game was on Dec. 31, 2013.
Harding was limited to five games in the 2012-13 season as he dealt with his illness, which was diagnosed in the fall of 2012.
Harding had gotten himself back in shape and was expected to be ready when Minnesota started its training camp. Several players have been practicing together in the Twin Cities in the weeks leading up to Friday’s start of camp.
Without Harding, Bryzgalov joins Niklas Backstrom and John Curry for training camp as goaltenders who return after starting games last season for the Wild. Young netminder Darcy Kuemper is still unsigned as a restricted free agent.
Minnesota had five goaltenders start a game last season, including four who played at least 10 games. Backstrom, 36, was the team’s No. 1 starter at the beginning of the season before dealing with additional abdominal injuries. He eventually had surgery to repair a core muscle after playing 21 games.
Kuemper, a former sixth-round draft pick, was a revelation as he looked to be the franchise’s goaltender of the future. He started 25 games and had a 12-8-4 record with a .915 save percentage and 2.43 goals-against average. But the Wild and Kuemper, 24, haven’t been able to come together on a new contract.
Minnesota’s training camp roster includes goaltenders Johan Gustafsson, Alexandre Belanger and Brandon Whitney. Gustafsson, 22, is one of the team’s top prospects as a sixth-round draft pick in 2010. Belanger, 19, was a seventh-round pick in 2013. Whitney, 20, is an invitee to the Wild’s training camp.