Harding, Madden aren't sure where they'll land

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 29, 2011 - 10:09 PM

Josh Harding and John Madden are at different stages in their careers, but with free agency beginning Friday, both face uncertain futures.

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Wild goaltender Josh Harding (left) says he is 100 percent healthy after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his exhibition debut last year.

Photo: Jules Ameel, Star Tribune

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Josh Harding and John Madden are at different stages in their careers, but with free agency beginning Friday, both face uncertain futures.

Harding, 27, wants the NHL to know his right knee is "100 percent healthy," while Madden, 38, has changed his mind from last season's re-sign-with-the-Wild-or-retire edict.

"We're hoping we get a phone call in the next day or two [from the Wild], but if not, we've decided we'll play hockey somewhere else," Madden, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, said Wednesday. "My family's willing to move and try to win one more Cup somewhere else.

"My wife said to me, 'You're not done,' and I said, 'No, I'm not done.' "

Harding is in flux because he didn't play last season after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his exhibition debut.

But he says he's ready to play again. "I've had no setbacks with the knee ever since I started skating with a couple months left in the year there," Harding said. "I've had no trouble with it. I feel strong with it. I've had no restrictions. I have no hesitation going down [into the butterfly]."

After offseason hip surgery the year before, Harding came to last year's training camp in terrific shape with the intent of proving himself heading into his unrestricted summer.

"I had a really tough time dealing with it when it happened, but through the hard work I put in and how good it feels right now, I know all I can do is look forward to the future," he said. "Now I'm ready to prove myself again."

Madden, who eventually plans to retire with his family in Minnesota, hopes to latch on with a team quickly. "You have a handful of favorites that would really fit nice, but you never know how things shake out," he said. "We're open to anything right now."

With the Wild looking to leave spots open for youngsters, it's unlikely it re-signs Madden. But the Wild will be looking for a backup goaltender this summer.

Minnesota's preference is to re-sign former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Jose Theodore, 34, who went 15-11-3 with the Wild.

But Theodore's hope is to land a No. 1 job in free agency. If he signs elsewhere or the Wild has to wait too long for him, the team would then look at signing a veteran backup.

Harding, a second-round pick by the Wild in 2002, is on that list.

"I think the Wild probably have a vision on where they want to go," Harding said. "If that includes me, that'd be unbelievable. But if not, I have to move on and accept that. But obviously, I love Minnesota and was pretty proud to wear that Wild sweater."

Barker update

Defenseman Cam Barker cleared waivers Wednesday and was not immediately placed back on unconditional waivers. That doesn't mean he won't be bought out yet.

The Wild has until 11 a.m. Thursday to put him on unconditional waivers to meet the 4 p.m. first-buyout deadline.

The Wild also could continue looking for a trade suitor, keep Barker or look to buy out him during a second buyout period. For that to happen, the team needs one of its players to file for arbitration by July 5 or needs to elect arbitration for one of its players by July 6.

The only arbitration-eligible restricted free agent on the roster is newly acquired Darroll Powe.

The new No. 10

Recently acquired Devin Setoguchi will wear No. 10. The only player in Wild history to have that number was Marian Gaborik.

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