Minnesota Wild Josh Harding has had a hot start this season and his plays have garnished him national attention. He is even at the top of the NHL in several statistical categories.
And with all of that Coach Mike Yeo feels it’s time for Team Canada to start looking south for the Wild goalie.
Yeo said Tuesday that Team Canada should consider Harding for a roster spot in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“I absolutely do,” Yeo said. “You look at numbers, you look at stats, you look at wins. He’s certainly made a case for himself, and that’s what you want.”
Harding didn’t want to discuss his Olympic chances, instead he wanted to talk about his day-to-day play. But his sterling 1.22 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in 14 games are noteworthy — especially to a Canadian team that seems to be in need of a hot goalie.
Chicago’s Corey Crawford, Phoenix’s Mike Smith, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo, and Montreal’s Carey Price are Canada’s front-runners for three goalie spots in the Olympics.
Harding’s save percentage and goals-against average are better than all of them. But he hasn’t produced as consistently in past seasons as they have.
Regardless of if Harding makes Team Canada or not, Yeo said he is pleased that his goalie’s plays have opened the discussion.
“You want players to put themselves in a position where they’re opening eyes and getting attention from other people, and I think he deserves that,” Yeo said.
The NHL general managers will meet in Toronto; Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher told The Canadian Press he wasn’t sure Harding deserved a spot with so many more proven Canadian goalies available.
Yeo said he has decided who he will start in goal for Wednesday’s game against Toronto, but he didn’t say whether it would be Harding or Niklas Backstrom.