Wild takes Stoner off the market with deal

  • Updated: May 10, 2012 - 7:54 PM
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The Wild avoided unrestricted free agency with Clayton Stoner (left) on Thursday by re-signing the defenseman to a two-year, $2.1 million contract.

Photo: Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

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The Wild avoided unrestricted free agency with Clayton Stoner on Thursday by re-signing the defenseman to a two-year, $2.1 million contract.

The 6-foot-3 Stoner, 27, was the team's 2004 third-round draft pick. He collected five points, 62 penalty minutes, 72 hits and 80 blocked shots in 51 games this season. At plus-3, he was the Wild's only plus defenseman, and he was second on the team with six fighting majors.

Stoner has suffered myriad injuries during his pro career, but coach Mike Yeo looks to him as a steady influence and a player who's always willing to stand up for teammates.

"We would love to see him in the lineup, and durability is important when you're trying to make those decisions, but this is a character guy," Yeo said last month regarding whether the Wild should re-sign Stoner. "This is a guy that plays for his teammates and is effective when he's on the ice. We'd like to get more games from him, but he's a valuable piece."

• The Wild is also close to signing goalie Johan Gustafsson, 20, to an entry-level contract. The 2010 sixth-round pick backstopped Sweden to gold at the world junior championships in January and will play again next season in Lulea.

• The Wild and its American Hockey League team, the Houston Aeros, announced an affiliation with the Orlando Solar Bears, who will begin play in the East Coast Hockey League next season.

MICHAEL RUSSO

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