Local Sports Archives for 2021-07

South Dakota State readies for a season full of high expectations

( - Watertown, SD) One of the areas South Dakota State will be focusing on going into fall camp is the quarterback position with Mark Gronowski and J'Bore Gibbs both out with injuries.

Sophomore Keaton Heide and grad transfer Chris Oladokun are in the mix for the starting position.  Coach John Stiegelmeier...




The Jacks are also hopeful wide receiver Pierre Strong Jr takes the next step his junior season...



The Jacks are scheduled to open the fall season on September 3rd at Colorado State.

South Dakota head coach Bob Nielson talks pre-season Coyote football

( - Watertown, SD) South Dakota’s Carson Camp became the first true freshman in Coyote recorded history to start a season opener at quarterback.  Even though his season was only four games long this spring due to COVID, he was ranked in the top-20 nationally in passing yards per game and was the second-leading passer in the Valley in terms of yards per game.

Coach Bob Nielson is excited to see the progression of his young quarterback coming into fall camp...




Due to NCAA rules related to the pandemic, the Yotes will have a deeper roster this season...




The Coyotes open the season at Kansas on September 3rd. 

Wild sign defenseman Jon Merrill

Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has agreed to terms with defenseman Jon Merrill on a one-year, $850,000 contract.

Merrill, 29, recorded five assists and 70 blocked shots in 49 games with the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens last season. He was acquired by Montreal from Detroit on April 11, 2021, in exchange for Hayden Verbeek and a fifth round pick (Jack Bar) in the 2021 NHL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound native of Oklahoma City, Okla., notched 11 hits and 23 blocked shots in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Canadiens.

He owns 66 points (12-54=66), 211 penalty minutes (PIM), 364 hits and 507 blocked shots in 405 career NHL games during eight seasons with New Jersey, Vegas, Detroit and Montreal (2013-21). Merrill has appeared in 29 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Golden Knights and Canadiens. The left-shot defenseman made his NHL debut at Minnesota on Nov. 3, 2013, and scored his first NHL goal on Feb. 7, 2014, the game-winning tally in a 2-1 overtime win vs. Edmonton.

He tallied 47 points (11-36=47) and 45 PIM in 82 games during three seasons at the University of Michigan in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (2010-13). Merrill was named to the 2011 CCHA All-Rookie Team and the 2011 CCHA Second All-Star Team as the Wolverines won the CCHA championship. He represented the United States at the 2011 (bronze) and 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship and won back-to-back gold medals at the 2009 and 2010 IIHF World Under-18 Championships. Merrill also played two seasons at the U.S. National Team Development Program (2008-10) and totaled 41 points (8-33=41) in 101 contests.

He was originally selected by the Devils in the second round (38th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft.

Timberwolves trade guard Ricky Rubio to Cleveland

The NBA draft took place last night at the Barclays Center in New York City.  While the Timberwolves did not have a pick in the draft, they did make headlines before picks began with a small trade.  The Wolves sent guard Ricky Rubio to the Cleveland Cavalier in exchange for Taurean Prince, a 2022 second round pick and cash.  The pick itself is actually the Washington Wizard’s 2022 second round pick, controlled by Cleveland.  With the move, Minnesota will also dump Rubio’s 17.8 million expiring contract and accepting 13 million on Prince’s expiring deal.  That puts the Wolves below the luxury tax by $5.4 million. 

Wild active on first day of free agency

Day 1 of NHL free agency was as active as ever and the Minnesota Wild got in on the action early.  Headlining the free agency class for Minnesota was signing defenseman Alex Goligoski.  Goligoski is a Grand Rapids Minnesota native who played college hockey at the University of Minnesota.  He signed a one-year $5 million contract with the Wild. Goligoski is excited to return home...




Minnesota also added :

Forward Frederick Gaudreau on a two-year $2.4 million contract,
Defenseman Joe Hicketts on a two-year two way contract
Defenseman Jon Lizotte on a one-year two way contract
Forward Dominic Turgeon to a one-year, two way contract
Defenseman Dimitry Kulikov to a two-year $4.5 million contract.


Gaudreau says he is excited to reunite with head coach Dean Evason, who worked together in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals...




Wild General Manager Bill Guerin was pleased with how the first day of free agency went...


Northern State names Gavin Block as men's assistant basketball coach

 Northern State University head men's basketball coach Saul Phillips announced the addition of Gavin Block to his staff today. A former student-athlete of Phillips, Block joins the Wolves after two seasons at Duquesne University.
"Gavin is one of the brightest basketball players I have ever coached," noted Phillips. "He was the type of leader during his playing days that you knew would translate to college coaching. I know our players will enjoy his personality and coaching style; and I look forward to all the positive things he'll bring to our program here at Northern State."
"I am very excited to join the Northern State men's basketball program," explained Block. "I am looking forward to being reunited with Coach Phillips, and I can't thank him enough for giving me the opportunity to be part of something special. I am eager to start building relationships with all our players and everyone in the community. Go Wolves!"
From 2019-21, Block was the assistant director of basketball operations for the Dukes. He handled the day-to-day operations of the program include practice and game day organization, travel planning, recruiting, game film management, and social media promotion. The Dukes went 30-18 in his two seasons on staff.
Block played collegiately at Ohio University, earning a bachelor's of business in specialized studies in 2019 and masters in leadership management in 2021. He appeared in 121 contests, racking up nearly 850 points and 300 assists. Block was a 4-time All-MAC Academic team honoree and Ohio SAAC member.

Wings coach Langer accepts head coaching job with USHL Fargo Force

The Fargo Force of the USHL made the move official Wednesday and announced the hiring of Aberdeen Wings head coach Scott Langer as the team’s next head coach.  Langer leaves Aberdeen along with his assistant coach Michael Hill.  During Langer’s three years in Aberdeen he led the wings to a 51-4 record and managed to clinch two central division championships, two central division playoff championships, a regular season championship and a Robertson Cup championship. 


The Wings wasted no time in naming its next head coach, announcing Steve Jennings to take over for the departing Langer.  Jennings worked directly with Langer since 2004 and has been the Wings director of player personnel since 2016. 


South Dakota State picked as pre-season Missouri Valley Football Conference favorites

For the first time since joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference for the 2008 season, South Dakota State has been tabbed as the league pre-season favorite in a poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors.  South Dakota State returns 10 offensive starters and 10 defensive starters from its Spring 2021 team, which reached the FCS title game and earned a share of the MVFC crown.


SDSU received 24 first-place votes and 454 total points to edge North Dakota State, which earned 435 points and had 18 first-place tallies.   North Dakota and Southern Illinois were third and fourth with 357 and 345 total points, respectively.  UNI, which received the remaining first-place vote, had 311 points to finish fifth.  And defending tri-champ Missouri State was picked sixth with 256 points.  Illinois State (196), South Dakota (163), Youngstown State (126), Indiana State (112) and Western Illinois (83) rounded out the voting.

Collectively, the league returns 88 percent (212 of 242 student-athletes) of its starting lineups to this year's fall rosters (from Spring 2021, and for Indiana State Fall 2019).  UNI, notably, is slated to return all 11 starters on both sides of the ball.

Although the 2020-21 season did not yield a national championship, the season may have been one of the most successful in league history as the Conference and its member schools navigated through a season that was shifted from the fall to the spring.  Despite cancelled games due to COVID-19 which also led to multiple league teams who became unable to compete or complete the season, five MVFC teams made a playoff field that was limited to only 16 total participants.  Three schools shared the league title (Missouri State, North Dakota, and South Dakota State), marking just the second time in league history that the Conference had tri-champions.  Those three schools were joined in the playoff field by North Dakota State and Southern Illinois.  Four teams advanced to the quarterfinals, and South Dakota State reached its first title game.  

SIU, which snapped NDSU’s FCS- and league-record 39-game winning streak, was making its first playoff appearance since 2009; Missouri State earned its first league title and first playoff appearance since 1990; UND reached the playoffs in its first year as an MVFC member; and NDSU and SDSU extended their streaks of consecutive playoff trips to 11 and nine-straight years, respectively.

In 2020-21, five MVFC teams were ranked in the Top 13 of the final Stats Perform Top 25 poll, led by SDSU’s No. 2 ranking.  The league had an FCS-best 16 student-athletes on the FCS Stats Perform All-America team, and the MVFC had a league-record five players taken in the 2021 NFL Draft, highlighted by QB Trey Lance of NDSU who was the third overall pick.

 In terms of post-season success, a league school has now reached the title game 11 times since 2011 (North Dakota State-8, Illinois State-1, South Dakota State-1, Youngstown State-1).  South Dakota State extended the league’s FCS-record streak of having at least one MVFC team in the finals to 10-straight years as the Jackrabbits reached the FCS Championship in the Spring of 2021, falling to second-seeded Sam Houston State in the final seconds.

The 2021 season will mark the seventh in an agreement with ESPN to distribute all 44 league games on ESPN3 (or ESPN+), while the league has implemented other initiatives to promote its institutions, student-athletes and coaches, including a weekly podcast series (“First and Goal”), and video segments that review (“Two-Minute Drill”) and preview (“The Extra Point”) each week’s contests throughout the season.  The MVFC and other FCS leagues have partnered in the production of a weekly “FCS ALL IN” special which will air 15 times on Saturdays throughout the season on a dedicated YouTube channel, beginning Aug. 21.

A pre-season favorite has claimed the league crown 22 times (in 35 previous polls).

In addition to today's team rankings, the Conference has announced its preseason team, voted on by coaches, sports information directors, and a media panel.  All 11 teams have at least one honoree, topped by Southern Illinois with 13 total selections. 



Vikings reassign O Line coach Rick Dennison to senior offensive advisor, promote Phil Rauscher to O line coach

The Minnesota Vikings have named Phil Rauscher as Offensive Line Coach and added Ben Steele as the team’s Assistant Offensive Line Coach. Due to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, the team has agreed to terms with former Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison to serve as Senior Offensive Advisor.


Rauscher is in his second season with the Vikings and his seventh NFL season. Prior to joining the Vikings, Rauscher served as the offensive line coach for the Washington Football Team after being promoted from assistant offensive line coach during the 2019 season. In the 11 games Rauscher served as the offensive line coach, Washington totaled 1,239 rushing yards and the 8th-best average in the NFL at 4.62 yards per carry. Rauscher joined Washington in 2018 after spending three seasons with the Denver Broncos, the last of which serving as Assistant to Head Coach Vance Joseph in 2017. He spent 2015-16 as an offensive assistant on the Broncos staff.


Steele joins the Vikings staff in his 8th NFL season and his 14th season of coaching overall. His connections with the Vikings date back to his early playing career when he went to training camp with the club in 2003 and 2004. Steele most recently coached in Atlanta, overseeing tight ends in 2020 and spending 2019 as an offensive assistant. Prior to joining the Falcons, Steele spent a five-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, beginning as an offensive quality control coach in 2014 and moving to coach tight ends in 2017 and 2018.

Matt Motzko, son of Gopher hockey coach Bob Motzko dies in car accident

University of Minnesota head hockey coach Bob Motzko and his family suffered tragedy Saturday when his son Mack died in a car accident.  The incident occurred Saturday night in Orono Minnesota after 11:00 p.m.  It was a single vehicle accident and appears the vehicle was speeding when it left the road and struck several trees.  According to police alcohol is believed to have played a factor.  Mack Motzko most recently played for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL and for the New Mexico Ice Wolves in the NAHL. 

Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez approved by the NBA board of governors for Timberwolves purchase

The NBA board of governors officially approved Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

The following is a statement from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx regarding the ownership of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx:

“We are pleased to officially welcome Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx family. Together with Marc and Alex, we take another step forward in building a world-class organization both on and off the court.” – Glen Taylor

Viking owners, the Wilf family, complete purchase of Orlando MLS team

The Wilf family has finalized its acquisition of Orlando City Soccer Club, becoming the Club’s new majority owners, it was announced today. The purchase includes Orlando City Soccer Club of Major League Soccer, the Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League, Exploria Stadium and all related soccer assets, including the Orlando City Academy and Youth Soccer Network, and the Club’s two official training facilities, the Orlando Health Training Ground at Osceola Heritage Park and the Orlando Health Training Ground at Sylvan Lake Park.


Mark Wilf, along with his brother Zygi and cousin Lenny, will be managing partners of Orlando City SC and Orlando Pride. Mark will serve as Chairman and Governor. The Wilf family has owned the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings for the past 17 years and they lead Garden Homes, the family’s real estate firm, a nationwide leader in retail, commercial, and private residential development.


“We are humbled to become stewards of Orlando City SC and the Orlando Pride, clubs with strong and established foundations on the pitch, with renowned supporters and a passionate fan base, and in a community we are extremely proud to represent,” said new Chairman Mark Wilf.

“We have a great appreciation for Flavio Augusto da Silva and to the entire staff for all of our discussions and for the foundation that they helped build,” Wilf continued. “We are committed to building a world-class organization, winning championships, investing in the growth and success of the Pride, and ensuring that we continue to give back to the Orlando community and make a meaningful difference.”


The DeVos family will join the ownership group as a limited partner. The DeVos family has been part of the fabric of Orlando since purchasing the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic in 1991. Dan DeVos will serve as the family’s lead representative. Dan is chairman of the Orlando Magic and the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation.


“We are also thrilled to welcome the DeVos family as part of our ownership group,” Mark Wilf added. “Dan and the DeVos family are synonymous with Orlando sports and community. They are a valued and strong strategic partner as we move forward and work to create sustained success for Orlando City SC and the Orlando Pride.”


With the purchase of Orlando City SC and the Orlando Pride, the Wilf family has dissolved its minority stake in 2020 MLS expansion side Nashville SC.


The Wilf family will be formally introduced and welcomed to Orlando at a media event and availability at Exploria Stadium on Wednesday, August 4. More details on this event will be forthcoming.

Wild release protected list for upcoming NHL expansion draft

Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has protected seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender for the NHL Expansion Draft. The following players were protected for the NHL Expansion Draft:

Goaltender - Cam Talbot
Defensemen - Jonas BrodinMatt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon
Forwards - Joel Eriksson EkKevin FialaMarcus FolignoJordan GreenwayRyan HartmanNico Sturm and Mats Zuccarello

The Expansion Draft will be broadcast live from Seattle on Wednesday, July 21 at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN2. All players who have currently effective and continuing "No Movement" clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who decline to waive such clauses) must be protected. All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, are exempt from selection.

The Seattle Kraken must select one player from each team for a total of 30 players (Vegas Golden Knights are exempt from the 2021 Expansion Draft). Seattle must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders and must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2021-22 season.

Full and partial season tickets for the Minnesota Wild's 2021-22 season are currently available for purchase. Please visit or contact a Wild Ticket Sales Representative by calling or texting 651-222-WILD (9453) for more information.

Jackrabbit football tickets to go on sale to the general public August 2nd

South Dakota State has announced 2021 single game football tickets will go on sale to the general public August 2nd.  Tickets can be purchased through starting at 7:00 a.m. on that day.  Current season ticket holders and Jackrabbit Club members can purchase additional single-game tickets anytime through their online accounts. 

Northern Strength and Conditioning coordinator Dylan Fritz leaving his position

Northern State University Interim Athletic Director, Terri Holmes announced today that Dylan Fritz will move on from his position as the Director of Strength and Conditioning. Fritz resigns his post effective July 30th and transitions to a career outside of athletics.
"We would like to thank Dylan for all that he has done for our NSU student-athletes over the last 8-plus year," noted Holmes. "He challenged each athlete and team to push out of their comfort zone and be the very best that they could be. He also created a sense of pride in our strength and conditioning program. We wish him the best of luck."

"The past eight years have been a dream come true," explained Fritz. "It was such a blessing that Kelli and I both found jobs at Northern State. The people of Aberdeen and Northern State are family to us. We were truly blessed to serve this school and community; and will cherish our time spent here. We appreciate the community of Aberdeen and Northern State University, as well as the faculty, staff, and students we were so fortunate to work alongside on a daily basis. We will be leaving Aberdeen with our feet but not our hearts! Thank you for an unbelievable eight years. We are so blessed. Go Wolves!"
A certified strength and conditioning specialist and USA weightlifting sports performance coach, Fritz brought a wealth of experience from universities and organizations across the country. His work in the Northern State department led to the rise of numerous athletic programs in recent years. In addition to his coaching experience, Dylan worked to establish and develop a strength and conditioning internship program.
Northern State will begin a national search for Fritz's replacement.

Wild general manager talks buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter

Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin announced Tuesday the team has bought out the remaining four years forward Zach Parise and defensemen Ryan Suter’s contracts. 


Suter and Parise are both 36 years old and have played nine seasons in Minnesota.  They both signed 13 year contracts on the same day back in 2012 in what was at the time and still is possibly the biggest free agent announcement in Minnesota pro-sports history. 


Wild general manager Bill Guerin says its about moving the team forward…




The move was not all that unexpected for Parise, as his relationship with the team had started to sour in recent years, including being healthy scratches for games and playing 4th line minutes.  The move was surprising to many league analysts when it comes to Suter however.  Both will become unrestricted free agents July 28th.  


The move does provide the Minnesota Wild with a windfall of cap space this season, but things will get squeezed come year three after this buyout.  This year they get $2.33 million in cap relief, but will suffer $15 million in cap penalties come year three and four.  Gurien acknowledged those challenges...




Gurien hopes this move will free up roster space and minutes for younger players to find their role...


Team USA basketball loses two straight exhibition games

Team USA basketball lost its second consecutive Olympic exhibition game Monday.  Team USA fell to Australia in Las Vegas 91-83.  The loss came just days after the US lost to Nigeria in another exhibition game Saturday.  Since pros started playing for team USA in 1992 team USA had been 54-2 in exhibition games.  The team has now doubled those losses in a span of three days.  Team USA is scheduled begin the Olympics with preliminary round play Sunday July 25th taking on France. 

Northern announces Ryan Clark as women's basketball assistant coach

Northern State University head women's basketball coach Paula Krueger announced today the hiring of Ryan Clark as the team's second assistant. Clark joins the Northern State program after two years on staff at Minot State.
"We are excited to add Ryan Clark to our women's basketball staff," explained Krueger. "He brings knowledge of the NSIC, has recruited the region, and will be working with our posts. Ryan is a hard worker and has hit the ground running. We are happy to have him in Wolves country."
"I am so excited to join the Northern State women's basketball program," noted Clark. "I would like to thank Coach Krueger for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something special.
In his two seasons with the Beavers, Clark worked as an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator. In February of 2021, he was named the interim head coach and led the team through the final three weeks of the season.
Prior to Minot, Clark spent three years at Dickinson State University working with Northern State men's assistant Josh Vaughan. In his first two years at Dickinson, he helped his team reach back-to-back North Star Athletic Association Championship games.
Clark added, "I look forward to learning and working with Coach Krueger and Neumann. I am very grateful and cannot wait to get started building relationships and coaching these talented young women."
The Australia native attended Lake Region State College playing two seasons with the Royals. He finished his career as the all-time leading rebounder (636) at LRSC. Clark earned a bachelor of science in Business Administration from Dickinson State University in 2018, and a master of science in Sports Management from Minot State University in 2020.
Clark and his wife, Sheridan, reside in Aberdeen.

Northern AD Josh Moon accepts same position at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Northern State University AD Josh Moon has accepted the athletic director role at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, an NCAA Division I institution. A native of Wisconsin, Moon begins his new role on Aug. 1.


“I am truly honored and humbled to join the awesome team at Green Bay. Andria and I are thrilled to be returning home to Wisconsin,” said Moon. “Northern State University is a special place, from the community support to an incredible team of coaches and student-athletes. Our family will miss Wolves Nation – we will never forget our time in Aberdeen.”


As Green Bay's Director of Athletics, Moon will oversee a department offering 14 NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports, serving over 200 student-athletes. He will report directly to Chancellor Michael Alexander and serve on the University Cabinet.


“Josh has had a profound impact on the campus of Northern State University. From unprecedented facility upgrades to significant student-athlete scholarship enhancements, he has been a key part of Northern’s success,” said Northern President Neal Schnoor. “I congratulate Josh on this next chapter of his career, Green Bay is gaining a tremendous leader, and we wish him and his family the very best.”


Moon has led Wolves Athletics for more than nine years, during which NSU saw unparalleled success both on and off the fields of play. Accolades include:


  •        An average semester GPA of at least 3.30 among student-athletes during the past 10 semesters.
  •        More than $100 million in university-wide fundraising, including the most recent $62 million Educational Impact Campaign.
  •        2018 NCAA Division II National runner-up in men’s basketball.
  •        Four consecutive conference championships in men’s basketball.
  •        Five consecutive qualifications for the NCAA Tournament for women’s basketball.
  •        Back-to-back conference championships in volleyball.
  •        Men’s and women’s basketball continued to lead NCAA Division II in attendance for the 13th straight year in 2019-20.


Schnoor also announced that NSU Senior Associate Athletic Director Terri Holmes will serve as interim AD as the university immediately begins a nationwide search for the Wolves’ next permanent AD.


“Terri has more than 15 years of administrative experience with NSU Athletics, including a background in coaching and compliance,” said Schnoor. “She will do a great job of serving our coaches, student-athletes, fans, campus and community during this time of transition.”


Moon is only the fourth NSU director of athletics since 1956, preceded by Clark Swisher, Dr. James Kretchman and Bob Olson. Josh and his wife Andria, an Associate Professor of Elementary Education/Early Childhood at NSU, are the parents of two boys, Brady and Kellen.

Wolves announce Kaden Huntrods to serve as next Northern swim coach

Northern State University Director of Athletics Josh Moon announced the hiring of Kaden Huntrods as the third head swim coach in program history today. Huntrods joins the Wolves program after two seasons as the head coach at Iowa Lakes Community College.
"We are excited to welcome Kaden to Wolves Country," noted Moon. "He has a clear passion for swimming and has made a positive impact everywhere he's been. Kaden knows this region very well and we look forward to his leadership with our swimming program. A big thanks to Ashley Gauer for her work with this search and leadership of the swim program over the past month." 
"I would like to thank Josh Moon and Ashley Gauer for this amazing opportunity to lead Northern State University swimming," explained Huntrods. "Coach Monanian has done a wonderful job and I wish her the best at Purdue. I am excited to return to the State of South Dakota and continue my coaching career with these amazing student-athletes." 
In his two seasons leading both the men's and women's programs at ILCC, Huntrods coached his teams to ten top-6 placings at the NJCAA National Meet. In addition, the Lakers broke two individual records and one relay record in his tenure. He opened his collegiate coaching career as a student assistant and then graduate assistant at South Dakota State University.
Huntrods added, "Meeting with the student-athletes and athletic department it was very evident the care and love for the swim team. I am happy to now be a part of the Wolf Pack. Go Wolves!"
While on the Jackrabbit staff, Huntrods assisted with the team fundraising effort, instituted an underwater stroke analysis program, and assisted with the day-to-day recruiting and program development efforts. He recruited the 2021 Summit League Champion in the men 200 IM and saw numerous school individual and relay records fall.
Huntrods has coached with numerous youth clubs including the Paso Robles swim team, Madison Makos, and Mitchell Aquatic Club. He is a Level II certified coach through the American Swim Coaches Association and the United States Masters.
Huntrods earned his bachelor of science in Exercise Science from Dakota State University and master of science in Sport and Recreation Administration from South Dakota State University.

Wild re-sign forward Joel Erikkson Ek

Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin today announced the National Hockey League club has signed forward Joel Eriksson Ek to an eight-year, $42 million contract ($5.25 million average annual value) that goes through the 2028-29 season.


Eriksson Ek, 24, recorded a career-high 30 points (19-11=30) in 56 games during the 2020-21 season. The 6-foot-3, 208-pound native of Karlstad, Sweden, also set career highs in goals, plus/minus rating (+16) and in TOI/game (17:03). He led the Wild in faceoffs won (395), ranked second in hits (105), third in goals and shots (119), fourth in plus/minus rating and fifth in scoring. The left-shot forward tallied a career-high seven-game point streak (4-3=7) from April 17-29, tied for the longest point streak by a Wild player last season. He also recorded consecutive multi-point games for the first time in his career Jan. 20-22 and was one of three players to skate in every game. Eriksson Ek ranked T-1st on the Wild in playoff goals (2) and scoring (3) in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games, including his first career playoff game-winning goal (OT) on May 16 at Vegas.


Eriksson Ek owns 96 points (43-53=96), nine GWG, 88 PIM, 472 hits and 158 blocked shots in 266 career NHL contests during five seasons with Minnesota (2016-21). He has recorded five points (3-2=5) in 19 career Stanley Cup Playoff matches.


Minnesota selected Eriksson Ek in the first round (20th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Wild resign forward Nick Bjugstad to one-year extension

 Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has signed forward Nick Bjugstad to a one-year, $900,000 contract.


Bjugstad, 28, recorded 17 points (6-11=17), three game-winning goals, a plus-7 rating, 48 hits and 22 blocked shots in 44 games during the 2020-21 season. The 6-foot-6, 208-pound forward set a career high in plus/minus rating and ranked T-2nd on the Wild in GWG. The Minneapolis, Minn. native tallied 13 of his 17 points (5-8=13), including all three GWG at Xcel Energy Center. He became the 27th Minnesota native to play in a game for the Wild. The right-shot skater registered a three-game assist streak (3a) from March 10-14 and recorded a three-game point streak (1-2=3) from Feb. 24-27. He scored his 100th career NHL goal (GWG) on Feb. 26 vs. LA to become the 26th Minnesota-born NHL skater to reach 100 goals. The forward registered a goal and 11 shots in six Stanley Cup Playoff contests.


Bjugstad owns 224 points (103-121=224), 17 power-play goals, 47 power-play points, 17 GWG, 215 penalty minutes, 729 hits and 166 blocked shots in 483 career NHL contests during nine seasons with Florida (2012-2019), Pittsburgh (2018-20) and Minnesota (2020-21). He has recorded five points (3-2=5) in 15 career Stanley Cup Playoff matches with the Panthers (2015-16), Penguins (2018-19) and Wild (2020-21).


He played three seasons at the University of Minnesota and notched 98 points (54-44=98) in 109 games (2010-13). Bjugstad tallied 42 points (25-17=42) in 40 contests in 2011-12 and was named to the WCHA First All-Star Team and Second All-American Team. He played three seasons at Blaine High School and was named Mr. Hockey in 2010 after recording 69 points (35-34=69) in 30 games.


Minnesota acquired Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a conditional draft pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft on Sept. 11, 2020.