The Minnesota Wild came to terms with center Mikko Koivu
, and defenseman Martin Skoula on Saturday, agreeing on multi-year deals with both players. The moves will keep last year's defensive corps in tact, and also locks up the team's most reliable two-way center.
Just two days away from being able to test the open market, Skoula signed with the Wild after his first full season in Minnesota last year. With restricted free agents Nick Schultz and Kurtis Foster
given qualifying offers earlier this week, the Wild will now bring back the entire defensive group including Brent Burns, Keith Carney, Foster, Kim Johnsson, Petteri Nummelin, Schultz, and now Skoula.
The signing of Skoula means two unrestricted free agents from last season remain unsigned in centers Wes Walz and Todd White.
Skoula came to the Wild late in 2006 as part of a trade with Dallas in exchange for Willie Mitchell. Last season, he picked up 15 assists and was a +9 in 81 games.
Koivu enjoyed a breakout season in 2006-2007 with 20 goals and 34 assists for 54 points, a 25 point jump from 2006-2007, which was the second highest improvement behind Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis. The Wild's sixth overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft has been the team's most lethal weapon in shootout situations, and the most reliable center in the faceoff circle.