Contract deal helps Wild's Prosser live his dream

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 7, 2012 - 6:23 AM

The Elk River rookie signed a two-year extension.

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Nate Prosser

The razzing just kept going. But what did Nate Prosser expect?

Prosser signed his two-year contract extension with the Wild before the team's practice Monday at Xcel Energy Center. During practice, coach Mike Yeo called the team to center ice, then announced the deal.

Prosser knew what to expect. So he smiled when one teammate said cameras would need a wide-angle lens to capture Prosser's head from now on. Goalie Josh Harding asked if Prosser was taking the team charter to Columbus for Tuesday's game or if he was going to fly in a private jet.

"It's a good day for me and my family," Prosser said. "I was able to celebrate with them yesterday. There was a lot of excitement. I mean, my first time signing a one-way deal like this? It's a dream come true."

The rookie defenseman worked hard to get to this point, paying dues that included a number of call-ups from Houston and return trips back.

Prosser got a two-year, one-way deal worth $1.65 million. That's an $825,000 salary cap hit starting next season. Prosser, 25, has six assists in 23 games this season. One reason he's been back and forth between the Wild and the Aeros of the American Hockey League is that he doesn't have to clear waivers to be sent down. That will change, starting next season.

"He's a guy that, being around him for two years now, you've got to really like his attitude," Yeo said. "And what he brings to the table, both as a person and especially the way he's contributing."

Prosser came back even sharper after his last stint in Houston, and even that showed the Wild something. Prosser had done good things with the Wild but, when he was sent back to Houston, he didn't pout.

And there was a bright side: All those trips gave him enough frequent flier miles to fly his wife, Brittani, back from Houston with him.

"They kept telling me to keep my head in it, to go down and improve on what I needed to improve on and be ready to come back and get right after it," Prosser said. "That's all I could concentrate on."

Prosser, who is from Elk River, was signed as a free agent out of Colorado College in March of 2010.

The result is perfect for a Minnesota kid. Prosser said the two sides started talking about a deal "a week or two ago."

"I'm extremely happy being able to be kind of secure with the spot," Prosser said. "It's a big relief for me and my family, being able to get settled here. It's a dream come true."

And it's a dream that is about to get a little bigger.

Prosser has resisted looking for a house to buy. He said he didn't want to jinx what was happening with the Wild. Now he and his wife will be able to start looking, and just in time. The Prossers are expecting their first child in August.

"It's a gift from God, the fact everything is working out, step by step," Prosser said.

Koivu update

Wild center Mikko Koivu was full-go at practice, having discarded the red, no-contact sweater. But that doesn't mean he will play in Columbus on Tuesday. Koivu worked mainly in defensive drills and didn't center a line in practice. In fact, he took one turn in a drill at right wing on the fourth line.

What he and the team were apparently looking for is how Koivu's shoulder would hold up taking some contact.

"I felt pretty good," Koivu said. "It was a good skate. I battled, and it was good."

Yeo said he would see how Koivu responded to Monday's practice before deciding Koivu's status for Tuesday. Koivu did travel with the team to Columbus.

Etc.

• Yeo said Niklas Backstrom, who has allowed one goal in his past two starts, would start in Columbus.

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