Niklas Backstrom Headed to Finland

Former Minnesota Wild and, briefly, Calgary Flames goaltender Niklas Backstrom has signed a one-year contract to play for HIFK Helsinki in the Finnish Liiga.

Backstrom had a rough few final seasons in the NHL. The 38-year-old became a part of a three-goalie rotation, born of persistent injuries that have required multiple offseason surgeries. He spent 11 seasons with the Wild, playing all but four games of his 413-game career with the franchise.

Last season he didn’t play a single contest for the Wild, finding himself as the odd-man out with Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper taking up all the starts. At his peak he was regularly playing 50-71 games per season, earning an entry to the 2009 All-Star Game and a piece of the 2007 William Jennings Award.

But injuries and decline left him in a situation where he played only 40 games with the Wild over the last three seasons, including just 33 starts. He was nonetheless a positive part of the team. There constant reports that he was chipper and working as hard as ever at practices, despite spending most of his time watching the game from the press box.

Backstrom spent the first 10 years of his career playing professionally in Finland, including four seasons spent with HIFK. He exits the NHL as the Wild’s all-time leader in wins, shutouts and games played.