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Wild make free agent signings

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sports Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Wild make free agent signings
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The Minnesota Wild have signed center Matt Cullen and left wing Eric Nystrom to three-year contracts.

The team announced the deals on Thursday night. Cullen, who won the Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, finished last season with Ottawa. The 33-year-old forward is a native of Minnesota who played at Moorhead High School and St. Cloud State University.


The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Cullen joins his sixth NHL team, bringing 169 goals and 292 assists in 880 games.

Last season, Cullen had 16 goals and 32 assists in 81 games for Carolina and Ottawa. He was traded in February and added three goals and five assists in six playoff games.

Nystrom had a career-high 11 goals and eight assists in 82 games last season for Calgary.

The Minnesota Wild have re-signed left wing Guillaume Latendresse to a two-year contract.

The team announced the deal on Thursday. Terms were not disclosed. Latendresse came over in a trade with Montreal and emerged as one of the team's best offensive players in the second half of the season.

Latendresse had 25 goals and 12 assists in 55 games with the Wild after the Nov. 23 trade. The move seemed to energize Latendresse who finished the season with a career-high 27 goals and 40 points. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis first reported the deal.

NEW YORK (AP) -- It was a great day to be a free agent defenseman in the NHL.

While basketball free agents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade hosted several high-powered meetings with NBA teams from coast to coast, their NHL counterparts just needed to sit by the phone Thursday and wait for the big-money offers to come through.

Once they started at 12:01 p.m., they didn't stop for the greater part of the day. Forget long-term negotiations, these hockey deals got done faster than a soaring slap shot.

The biggest name on this year's free agent board, high-flying forward Ilya Kovalchuk, remained available into Thursday night. His pricey demands could keep him on the market for a little bit longer.

That can't be said for many other Grade-A players.

Sergei Gonchar got things kicked off less than an hour after teams could begin talking to free agents from other clubs. The defenseman, who can turn around any team's suspect power play, quickly heard what he wanted to from the Ottawa Senators and left the Pittsburgh Penguins for a three-year, $16.5 million deal.

If the Penguins were disappointed to see Gonchar go, they didn't let it show. They shook off his departure and dipped right into the free agent pool to come up with a pair of blue-liners -- Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek.

Pittsburgh signed both players to five-year deals, giving Martin a $25 million deal, and a $20 million contract to Michalek.

Martin, who made $4.5 million with the Atlantic Division-rival Devils last season, was viewed as the top two-way defenseman on the market this year.

Michalek had three goals and 14 assists in 72 games with Phoenix last season. He logs a lot of ice time, is strong in the defensive zone, and is an excellent outlet passer.

It then became the Devils'turn to raid the defenseman market.

After being unable to retain Martin, New Jersey struck in a hurry to replace him with its own pair of defensemen. The Devils signed Henrik Tallinder away from the Buffalo Sabres with a four-year, $13.5 million deal and then grabbed Ottawa's Anton Volchenkov by agreeing to a six-year, $25.5 million pact.

Dan Hamhuis left the Nashville Predators for a six-year, $27 million deal.

ST. PAUL, (AP) --

Pioneer staff reports