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Wild sign Zidlicky to three-year extension

by Mike G. Morreale
The Minnesota Wild made certain to shore up their defense Tuesday when General Manager Chuck Fletcher extended the contracts of Marek Zidlicky and Clayton Stoner.

Zidlicky, 33, was given a three-year extension and Stoner, 25, a two-year extension. Zidlicky is fresh off a formidable showing for the Czech Republic in the 2010 Winter Olympics, recording 5 assists in 5 games. It marked his second straight performance for the Czechs at the Winter Games.

"Marek logs a large number of minutes every night and also creates a lot of offense for our team," Fletcher said. "Stoner is a young defenseman that adds size and toughness to our defensive corps."

The moves come on the heals of the Wild dealing, perhaps, their most valuable bargaining chip one day before the Olympic break when they sent defenseman Kim Johnsson to the Chicago Blackhawks for Cam Barker. Barker is under contract through 2012-13.

Zidlicky has posted 5 goals, 36 points and 100 blocked shots in 60 games for the Wild while averaging a team-leading 23:42 of ice time per game. He's also dished out 64 hits and has been credited with 24 takeaways. The sixth-season performer, who had 42 points in 76 games for the Wild in 2008-09, spent his first four seasons in Nashville.

Zidlicky, who ranks 13th among all NHL defensemen in points (253) since joining the League in 2003-04, was acquired by Minnesota from Nashville in exchange for Ryan Jones and a second-round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in July 2008. He was originally drafted by the New York Rangers in the sixth round (176th overall) in '01.

Stoner, meanwhile, has recorded 2 assists in eight games with Minnesota this season. He made his NHL debut Dec. 17 at Montreal and recorded his first NHL point in a 4-1 loss to Ottawa two days later.

He's currently on injured reserve after undergoing successful sports hernia surgery on Feb. 12 by Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck in Munich, Germany. Stoner has collected 15 goals, 80 points and a plus-24 rating in 283 games spanning five seasons with Minnesota's American Hockey League affiliate in Houston. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound native of Port McNeill, B.C., was the Wild's third-round pick (79th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
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