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Wild Signs Defenseman Petteri Nummelin

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

 
 Petteri Nummelin is considered a safe bet to make the Wild roster next season accoring to General Manager Doug Risebrough.
Minnesota Wild president and general manager Doug Risebrough points to one class of player that benefited most from last year’s rule changes in the National Hockey League – offensive defensemen.

Risebrough signed a player that fits that mold for the second time this off-season with the acquisition of defenseman Petteri Nummelin (pronounced PEH-tuh-ree NOO-muh-lihn), who was picked up from the Atlanta Thrashers for a conditional third round pick in either the 2006 or 2007 NHL Entry Draft. As part of the deal, Nummelin signed a multi-year contract with the club.

Nummelin was originally drafted by the Columbus Bluejackets in the fifth round (133rd overall) in the 2000 Entry Draft. He saw action in 61 games with Columbus in the 2000-2001 season, and tallied four goals and 12 assists.

Since then, he has played all of his hockey with HC Lugano of the Swiss League. In his five seasons there, he amassed 232 points (68-164=232) in 199 games, including four consecutive seasons with at least 45 points. The native of Turku, Finland was also a key component of a Finnish team that won a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and a bronze medal at the World Championships. He played in all eight Olympic games and finished the tournament with two assists and two penalty minutes. At the World Championships, he led all tournament defensemen in scoring with three goals and 11 assists in nine games.

The offensive skills he showed in International play are what Risebrough targeted with this trade and signing.

“He’s an offensive, puck-moving defenseman,” said Risebrough. “He’s a good power play guy because he’s got a shot, and because he makes good plays by seeing the ice well.”

At 33, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Nummelin isn’t what you’d term a hot, young prospect. What he lacks in size, he makes up for with the maturity, the skills, and the experience that the Wild is looking for. The latter is the most important considering Minnesota was the third-youngest team in the League one year ago with an average age of 26.6, behind only Chicago (26.4) and San Jose (26.5).

“He’s not big,” admitted Risebrough. “But guys like him have to compete and they have to have the smarts, and I think he has those.”

Nummelin represents the third signing by the Wild this summer of a player who spent the last several seasons in European Leagues. Since June 1, the Wild has signed Backstrom out of the Finnish Elite League, and Buffalo, New York-native, Peter Ratchuk, a defenseman who spent the last three seasons in the German League.

It’s a trend that Risebrough attributes to the organization waiting out the development of youngsters, and now moving toward filling holes and adding depth.

“Last year, we wouldn’t have made these types of signings,” he admitted. “We wanted to see what our younger guys would produce.”

Of the three, Risebrough says one is a lock to wear a Wild jersey when October rolls around.

“I’d say they all represent a potential shot at the team. Nummelin is going to play for sure.”

He also elaborated on the Backstrom and Ratchuk signings.

“Backstrom is a guy who is mature and we needed more depth at goaltender. He’s legitimately competing for a backup position. The other kid is more of an outside shot, but another that the new rules are going to work with. He has speed, can skate, can carry the puck and he’s offensive. Maybe he’s maturing at the right time. They’re not young players that need experience or are trying to gain experience. These are guys that know their games and know how they have to play to be successful. Yeah, we’ve got youth and it needs to continue to develop, but if the youth can’t deliver, then we’ve got to find options, and these guys are options.”

Risebrough has hinted in recent months that the Wild would be active in the free agent signing period that begins on July 1. He said the signings of Backstrom, Ratchuk and Nummelin wouldn’t change that.

“No. I still think these are all pieces and we need to look at some more pieces.”

Petteri Nummelin’s Career Statistics

 

Reg. Season 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playoffs 

 

 

 

 

 Season

Club 

 League

 GP

 G

 A

PTS 

 PIM

 GP

 G

 PTS

 PIM

1995-96 

V. Frolunda 

 Sweden

 32

 7

11 

18 

 26

 12

 2

 7

 9

 4

1996-97

V. Frolunda 

 Sweden

 44

 20

14 

 34

39 

 0

 1

 1

1997-98 

 HC Davos

 Swiss

 33

 13

 17

 30

 24

17 

 8

 14

22 

 2

 1998-99

HC Davos 

 Swiss

 44

 11

42 

53 

22 

 4

 0

 2

 2

 2

1999-00 

HC Davos 

Swiss 

40 

15 

 23

 38

20 

 5

 0

 3

 3

 0

2000-01 

Columbus 

 NHL

61 

 12

 16

 10

-- 

-- 

-- 

-- 

 --

2001-02 

HC Lugano 

Swiss 

35 

 4

18 

22 

 6

13 

 6

15 

 2002-03

HC Lugano 

Swiss 

 43

18 

 39

57 

12 

 8

 6

 9

 2

2003-04 

HC Lugano 

 Swiss

48 

20 

 39

 59

 59

16 

19 

25 

2004-05 

HC Lugano 

 Swiss

36 

13 

 34

 47

18 

 3

 0

 1

 2

2005-06 

 HC Lugano

Swiss 

38 

 13

 32

 45

 22

 --

 --

 --

 --

-- 

 

NHL Totals 

 

 61

 12

 16

 10

-- 

 --

 --

-- 

-- 

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