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Harding wants to stay in Minnesota as a starter, Backstrom may take issue with that

Josh Harding

Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding (37) blocks a shot during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago, Sunday, April 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)


Minnesota backup goalie Josh Harding is hoping to one day be a starting goalie.

The impending unrestricted free agent might get that opportunity to be some team’s No. 1 guy on July 1, but he tells Michael Russo of The Star-Tribune he has one place in mind already where he wants to be the starter.

“I’m hoping we can get something worked out here soon,” said Harding, who turned 28 on Monday. “I’d love to be back here. It’s no secret I like Minnesota and I like being here. My goal since I was drafted [10 years ago] was to be a No. 1 goalie in Minnesota. I want to be a No. 1 goalie and if there’s a place and we can work something out, I’d love to stay.”

There’s one little catch about being the starter in Minnesota: Current starting goalie Niklas Backstrom.

Backstrom has one more year left on his contract with Minnesota and turns 35 soon. Harding is just 27 years-old and his time to prove he can be the top guy is upon him. Harding tells Russo that a one-year deal isn’t something that appeals to him.

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has a tough call to make here as Backstrom’s been a solid player for Minnesota for years and Harding has shown, between injuries, that he’s a very good goalie. Is it time for a change? Fletcher has less than a couple weeks to figure that out.