The Minnesota Wild has called up Johan Gustafsson, in replacement of Niklas Backstrom, from their American Hockey League Iowa affiliate to serve as their backup goalie Friday night when they take on the Florida Panthers.
Backstrom suffered an apparent head injury on a hit from Toronto’s Nazem Kadri early in Wednesday’s game. Kadri was suspended three games for the hit.
Darcy Kuemper was their other option but he is expected to start for Iowa in their Friday night game.
Josh Harding will continue to take a majority of the goal keeping for the Wild.
The Wild likely will need someone other than Harding to start one of the team’s back-to-back road games in Montreal and Ottawa on Tuesday and Wednesday. The first choice would be Backstrom, but if he’s not ready, Kuemper would likely get the call.
Letting Kuemper stay in Iowa now allows him to keep him playing and better prepare for a possible start next week with the Wild.
Backstrom isn’t expected to dress in Friday’s game. Gustafsson, 21, has a 2.45 goals against average and .920 save percentage in five games with Iowa.