The Wild tore up goalie John Curry’s two-way American Hockey League contract with Iowa and signed the former Breck School product to a two-way NHL contract.
He was officially placed on waivers Monday in order to be reassigned back to Iowa, but by signing Curry, the Wild now has a call-up option beyond rookie Johan Gustafsson.
Because of the Wild’s chaotic goalie situation this season caused by health problems for Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom, Gustafsson, who’s in his first year as a North American pro, has been on the Wild’s active roster six separate occasions and has backed up nine games.
He has yet to make his NHL debut.
“To have Gus just up here backing up, it’s just not right for his development and leaves Iowa really shorthanded, too,” General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “There have been times we’ve had both [Darcy] Kuemper and Gus up here and John’s been the only goalie down there, so this is recognizing the reality of our situation and protecting us with another NHL contract.”
Basically, Curry’s an insurance policy beyond Kuemper, who started 12 consecutive games before the break, and Backstrom, who was suffering from abdominal soreness before the break. Since Jan. 7, Backstrom missed one start and two other games as a result.
Backstrom is expected to practice Wednesday when non-Olympian Wild players report following their Olympic hiatus.
As for Harding, who has started two games since Dec. 17 and none since Dec. 31, Fletcher said there’s no change to his status and he will not be practicing this week.
“Once we get into practicing here, hopefully we can provide a better update,” Fletcher said. “There’s no real change with Josh.”
Fletcher knows Curry well. When he was assistant GM in Pittsburgh, Fletcher signed Curry out of Boston University.
“He’s just played very well down [in Iowa], so he deserves an NHL deal, and there’s no downside to signing him and having him available to you,” Fletcher said.
Curry, who turns 30 Feb. 27 and is from Shorewood, has shuttled all year between Iowa and ECHL Orlando. He is 6-3-2 with Iowa in 12 games with a 1.95 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. In 2007 with BU, he was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and was named Hockey East Player of the Year.
In four NHL games for Pittsburgh over parts of two seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10, Curry is 2-2 with a 3.67 goals-against average and .867 save percentage.