For the record, this did not come purely out of last night's contest. Only partially. ^_^
Josh Harding has shown that he can be a number one goaltender. Don't let the record fool you; he's got a GAA around 2.2 and a save percentage above .920. He's got a flair for the dramatic and can pull highlight-reel saves at any time.
And that's why we've got to trade him.
I'll take consistency and dependability over flashy every day of the week and twice on Thursday. Niklas Backstrom absolutely has to be re-signed; he's a top-three goaltender in the NHL right now and I know that Risebrough and everyone else in Wild country would kick themselves if they let Nik go. Nolan Schaefer is a good goalie but he's unproven and would be better in a back-up role since he's spent a lot of his time in the minors with Houston. Not only would we hand the reins over to a couple of young goaltenders, but we'd most likely face him (Backstrom) a few times a year. With our offense the way it is, you might as well just call in a forfeit - Backs would shut the Wild down every time.
Speaking of that offense, that's what you get in return for trading Harding. I'm not counting on Marian Gaborik to come back from that Lego-block hip of his - or his groin, or knee, or wherever else he's hurting. Andrew Brunette is hurt, Owen Nolan is hurt, Antti Miettinen has all but cooled off from his fast start. Pierre-Marc Bouchard is starting to earn his big contract, but are the Wild really going to count on Butch to carry them? Not on that 5'10" frame, that's for sure.
While I haven't looked too deeply into who the Wild would trade with, here are a couple of quick wrist shots. Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen doesn't look the same anymore. Meanwhile, Ilya Kovalchuk was a name that was floating around the initial Gaborik trade rumors. Toronto would be another spot; Nik Antropov is probably going to be moved and you have to take a look at the Leafs' goaltender stats; no one has a save percentage about .900 or a GAA below 3.00. Ouch. And finally, the Avalanche may be a division rival but Peter Budaj does not look like the answer for Colorado. Marek Svatos or Wojtek Wolski would be a couple of good pieces in return. Hey, we're talking about the team that traded Dwayne Roloson to a division rival for practically nothing. I'd like to see something more lucrative come out of this deal, so I'd hope that Risebrough would be willing to take phone calls from anyone.
Anyways, that's just my two cents. Here's to the Wild making another late-season playoff push, albeit a much tougher one with their upcoming road schedule.
Keep your stick on the ice.