The Minnesota Wild has its head coach. It's now time to start putting together the roster. While that will include the addition of prospects in this week's NHL Entry Draft as well as the potential signings of free agents and trades, the Wild also needs to lock up current players projected to be instrumental as the team looks to get younger and faster.
The club took a step toward that today by re-signing defenseman Nate Prosser
to a one-year contract.
"It's always nice to get it out of the way," said Prosser minutes after putting his signature on the dotted line. "It's time to get the summer going and start working out."
The Elk River native, who originally signed with the club last year as a free agent out of Colorado College, is coming off his first professional season with the Houston Aeros. By season's end, he emerged as one of the most reliable defensemen on the roster, ranking third on the team with a +12 rating. In 73 regular season games, he tallied eight goals and 19 assists to rank second among team blueliners. He added four points (2-2=4) in 24 playoff games as the Aeros reached the Calder Cup Finals.
"It was a really exciting run, and we had a really good group of guys," said Prosser, who has also played five games in a Wild uniform over the past two seasons. "It was a long season and something I've never been a part of. I think I played over 100 games."
Despite a well-stocked lineup of veteran and young defensemen, Prosser is expected to challenge for a roster spot coming out of camp. As it stands now, the lineup will return all seven defensemen that finished the season -- Cam Barker, Brent Burns, Nick Schultz, Greg Zanon, Marek Zidlicky, Jared Spurgeon
and Clayton Stoner
-- but that could change. Prosser is part of a group of expected challengers including Marco Scandella
, Justin Falk
and Tyler Cuma
A possible advantage for Prosser is his familiarity with the Wild's new coach, Mike Yeo. Prosser said he was thrilled to learn last week that Yeo was named the third head coach in the history of Prosser's hometown team.
"He's awesome," said Prosser. "Everyone loved playing for him just because he was such a personable guy. You could go and talk to him. If you were playing well, he'd let you know. If you weren't playing well, he'd let you know, but he'd go over video with you."