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Wild signs former Minnesota HS star Matt Cullen

Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 7:15 PM / NHL Free Agency 2010

By John McGourty - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Wild signs former Minnesota HS star Matt Cullen
The Minnesota Wild have signed veteran center Matt Cullen -- a Stanley Cup winner -- the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.
The Minnesota Wild have signed veteran center Matt Cullen -- a Stanley Cup winner -- the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

Cullen is no stranger to St. Paul. He played in three-straight Minnesota State Championships for Moorhead High School and then played two seasons for St. Cloud State. 

Cullen, 33, has 169 goals and 292 assists for 461 points in 880 games over 12 NHL seasons. He is minus-35 with 392 penalty minutes. Cullen has scored 43 power-play goals, 10 shorthanded goals and 23 game winners.

Cullen, 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, was a second-round pick, No. 35, of the Anaheim Ducks in 1996. After two seasons in the AHL, Cullen played 5 1/2 years for the Ducks before he was traded to the Florida Panthers with Pavel Trnka and a fourth-round pick in 2003 for Sandis Ozolinsh and Lance Ward.

After 1 1/2 seasons with Florida, Cullen signed as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2004 and then played in Italy during the work stoppage. Cullen led the Italian league in scoring that season.

Cullen enjoyed his best season in 2005-06 when he posted career highs of 25 goals and 49 points while helping lead the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup. Following that season, he signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers. After one season, the New York traded him back to Carolina for Andrew Hutchinson, Joe Barnes and a third-round draft pick in 2008.

He equaled his career-high 49 points in 2007-08 but after two more seasons of declining production (43 and 40 points) was traded in February to Ottawa. Cullen had 4 goals and 4 assists in 21 games for the Senators.

According to the Star-Tribune's Mike Russo, this is the third time the Wild has tried to sign the former Minnesota high-school star. Cullen has a great skill set: He's an excellent penalty killer and faceoff man and has played the point on the power play.

Cullen's brother, Mark, is a former NHL player who played last season with the AHL Rockford IceHogs and his brother, Joe, played for Colorado College and in the AHL. Joe Cullen played last season for Cortina, the Italian team for which Matt starred in 2004-05.

Contact John McGourty at jmcgourty@nhl.com

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