How waiver exemption paved way for Backstrom's NHL career

I have a few more details on how the Wild ended up landing Niklas Backstrom up at Globe on Hockey today, including the tidbit that Manny Fernandez was on the trade block long before he was ever salary dumped to Boston in 2007. It's hard to believe, too, that they thought they had their No. 1 in Josh Harding more than three years ago, and he's still muddling along as a backup.

Who is and isn't waiver eligible has become a big deal under this new CBA, and it's interesting how Minnesota seemingly found a bit of a workaround to the three goalie problem we've seen crop up over and over postlockout. I think we'd see this happen a lot more if European goalies were more willing to play in the minors in order to earn a shot at the NHL.

Talking to Backstrom earlier this week, you got the sense he had always wanted that NHL shot and just never got it. He also said he didn't feel he was a late bloomer, given he was one of the top netminders in Finland at junior age, but that 10 years ago, there just weren't as many opportunities for European goalies. (Although Kiprusoff, Toskala, etc. were drafted.)

Top goaltenders postlockout (by save percentage)

Rk   Player   GP   W   L   T/OT   SO   GAA   SV%
1 Niklas Backstrom  186 100 53 23 17 2.27 0.922
2 Jonas Hiller  83 39 28 3 5 2.37 0.921
3 Tomas Vokoun  246 123 90 26 22 2.58 0.921
4 Tim Thomas  228 111 78 29 15 2.58 0.919
5 Craig Anderson  100 41 30 14 8 2.70 0.918
6 Cristobal Huet  184 96 60 18 17 2.44 0.918
7 Martin Brodeur  274 165 86 23 27 2.31 0.917
8 Roberto Luongo  292 156 101 31 25 2.51 0.917
9 Henrik Lundqvist  281 150 89 35 21 2.33 0.916
10 Dominik Hasek  140 93 31 13 18 2.09 0.914
11 Chris Mason  183 85 64 21 17 2.54 0.914

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