Fair or unfair, the nature of the National Hockey League is that if you don't require waivers to be assigned to a minor league affiliate, there's a good chance that's where you're going. Nate Prosser
has seen this firsthand. He's been recalled from the Houston Aeros four times by the Minnesota Wild this season, and each time he's impressed in his time with the Wild.
But when a veteran defenseman got healthy and returned to the lineup, Prosser was headed south. Starting next season, he won't have to worry about it. The Elk River native signed a two-year contract extension with the Wild on Monday. The contract is a one-way deal.
"It's a good day for me and my family," said a smiling Prosser following Monday's practice. "There's a lot of excitement. It's my first time signing a one-way deal like this and it's a dream come true."
Prosser originally signed with the Wild on March 18, 2010 shortly after completing his senior season at Colorado College. He stayed with the Wild for the remainder of the regular season, but he didn't see action until injuries forced him into the lineup with three games to play. Prosser played the final three games and was solid, notching an assist and a +2 rating.
He played his first full professional season last year, playing in 73 games with the Aeros and posting eight goals and 19 assists. He followed up with two goals and two assists in 24 Calder Cup playoff games.
"He's a guy, being around him for two years now, you've got to really like his attitude," said Head Coach Mike Yeo. "You've got to really like what he brings to the table as a person and especially the way he's contributing and the way he's improved through the better part of a year and a half."
Despite the Wild returning five defensemen from last year's team, as well as adding veteran Mike Lundin
and making room for top prospect Marco Scandella
, Prosser kept forcing his way into the lineup. He's posted six assists in 21 games while averaging 20:17 of ice time to rank fourth among NHL rookies.
The 6-foot-2, 205 pounder is among the most mild-mannered players in the Wild locker room, but he's developed a reputation for getting gritty and nasty on the ice. He's among the first to stand up for a teammate, or to confront an opposing agitator as he did on Saturday against Dallas and Steve Ott. After sustaining an upper body injury while blocking a shot in the final game before the All-Star break, Prosser didn't miss any time and was in the lineup when the Wild returned to the ice less than a week later.
"I just want to do what I can when I get the opportunity," said Prosser. "Everytime I get that opportunity when my number's called if it's for the power play, penalty kill or five-on-five, I want to put my best foot forward and help the teams get wins. That's what it's all about."
Prosser will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the two-year commitment.