by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River’s Nate Prosser is not only up in the big leagues now, but is skating regularly for a surging, first-place team in his home state, the Minnesota Wild.
“It’s been going real well,” said Prosser on Thursday, contacted by the Star News.
The 25-year-old defenseman, formerly of the Elks and Colorado College, has appeared in 10 games since his call-up from Houston on Oct. 28, and the Wild are 8-2 in that span, including a 1-0 win over Colorado at home Thursday evening.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound skater has made four assists, and holds a plus-two rating.
Prosser had three NHL games in March 2010 after signing as a free agent when his college career ended. He spent last season with the Houston Aeros, the Wild’s farm team, and started the current season there, posting a plus-four rating in seven games.
When Wild defenseman Greg Zanous suffered a concussion, Prosser was called up.
This puts Elk River back up to two NHL players. Paul Martin, one of the league’s top defensemen with the Pittsburgh Penguins, is the other. Dan Hinote (Colorado and St. Louis) played for nine seasons, five of them overlapping Martin’s career. Hinote is now an assistant coach with Columbus.
Prosser is the fourth Elk to play in the NHL overall. The first was Joel Otto with Calgary and Philadelphia for 12 seasons.
The Wild, under new head coach Mike Yeo, who was Prosser’s coach at Houston last year, have a 19-11-5 record and lead the Northwest Division by five points. Their next two games are at home, vs. Columbus on Saturday and Nashville on Wednesday.
Prosser told Fox Sports North’s web site the day after his call-up, “You want to come back up, and you are just itching for it. When you get the opportunity, you do everything you can to show them what you are made of, and show them that you can play here.”
It’s helpful to be rejoining Yeo.
“To know the systems and know what you are getting into right from the drop of the puck, I feel comfortable,” he told FSN.
Further, he’s playing alongside Justin Falk, who was his defensive partner at Houston as well.
Yeo expressed confidence in Prosser.
“I am expecting him to come up and execute,” said Yeo on the Oct. 30 post on FSN. “He is a confident guy. He is a guy that knows our system well, knows how we want to play the game.”
Lou Nanne, former North Stars player, coach and general manager who’s a regular hockey contributor on KFAN, commented earlier this week that Prosser was “a great free-agent signing by (general manager) Chuck Fletcher,” praising the skater’s offensive skills, puck handling and physical stature.
Prosser is one of three Minnesotans (along with Virginia’s Matt Cullen and Burnsville’s Mike Lundin) on the Wild, whose current 26-man roster includes 17 Canadians.