UMD forward Fontaine signs two-year deal

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 20, 2011 - 12:43 AM

Minnesota Duluth star forward Justin Fontaine (right, with Jack Connolly) signed a two-year contract with the Wild on Tuesday.

Photo: Anonymous, Associated Press

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The bleached blond hair has mostly washed away. The emotional buzz has mostly worn off.

And Justin Fontaine is mostly ready to get on with his hockey career.

Less than two weeks after capping off his stellar career at the University of Minnesota Duluth with a national championship, the star forward has signed a two-year contract with the Wild.

"It's definitely an exciting time for me knowing I'm going to play in an organization that takes really good care of you," Fontaine, 23, said. "I'm familiar with the organization. It was so exciting last year taking part in the summer camp with them and I just looking forward now to getting it started."

Fontaine, who spent the past three years on one of college hockey's most prolific lines with Jack and Mike Connolly, scored 62 goals and 164 points in 159 games. The three-time All-WCHA second-teamer from Edmonton was the first UMD player since Mike Peluso (1994-98) to average at least a point a game over four years.

"There's definitely been a great buzz around this city the last two weeks," Fontaine said of Duluth after winning the NCAA title. "It's been a great ride and hopefully things will only get better.

"I'm going to try to work on being a skilled forward who takes care of my own end. I just need to work on getting stronger and being consistent every night knowing I'm going to play a lot more games at the pro level."

The 5-10, 175-pound Fontaine, who will graduate next month with a degree in finance, can make $595,000 annually (includes $90,000 signing bonus) in the NHL ($60,000 in the minors).

The signing comes a week after the Wild signed University of North Dakota defenseman Chay Genoway to a one-year deal.

Last year, the Wild signed college free agents Casey Wellman (UMass), Nate Prosser (Colorado College) and Jarod Palmer (Miami). The Wild has also signed six junior and European free agents in the past year, including Jared Spurgeon.

"Hockey sense, skill, work ethic, a winner, Justin's got all the attributes we're trying to add to our club," said GM Chuck Fletcher.

He's in the army now

The Wild captain's been demoted to private.

Mikko Koivu is trying to fulfill his Finnish military obligation little snippets at a time. With his duties as Finland's captain in the world championships still nine days from commencing, Koivu signed up as a private in the Finnish Army on Tuesday.

Koivu said last week it was "the right thing to do."

Don't worry, though. Koivu joined the Lahti sports school, where several professional Finnish athletes have fulfilled their requirements.

"I'm not going to war," said a laughing Koivu, who had pictures taken of him Tuesday as he made a bed.

Koivu, who will make $7.29 million next season, will earn $6.74 per day tax free during his military service, which will be completed in mid-July.

Wild prospect Mikael Granlund is expected to begin his military obligation this offseason as well.

Etc.

• Beginning Friday, Wild forward Andrew Brunette will be an analyst on NHL Network's On the Fly for three days.

• The Houston Aeros completed a four-game sweep of Peoria on Tuesday to advance to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

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