The Blue Jackets announced Wednesday that 10-year NHL veteran Niklas Backstrom will be the team's goaltending coach. Backstrom replaces Manny Legace, who did not have his contract renewed after five seasons with the team and six more with the organization.
NEWS: #CBJ have named Niklas Backstrom as the club's goaltending coach.— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) June 14, 2023
The Helsinki, Finland native has served as the team's European goaltending coach for the last 4 seasons. He enjoyed a 21-year playing career, including 10 years in the NHL from 2006-16.
Backstrom joined the organization in 2019 as the European goaltending coach. In his 10-year NHL career with the Wild and Flames, he played in 413 regular season games, posting a record of 196-144-50 with a .914SV% and a 2.49 GAA. In 11 playoff games, he went 3-8 with a .911SV% and a 2.55 GAA. Backstrom won the Jennings Trophy as a rookie in 2006-07 and finished in the top 10 for Vezina voting four times.
The Blue Jackets' goaltending will need to improve significantly next season. Specifically, they'll need Elvis Merzlikins, who is entering the second year of a five-year deal with a $5.4M cap hit, to bounce back after he posted a league-worst -25.9 goals saved above expected per moneypuck.com along with a career-worst .876SV% and 4.23 GAA.
This is the second coaching change Columbus has made this offseason after reportedly hiring Mike Babcock to be the team's head coach.