Elk River native Nate Prosser has been bouncing between the Minnesota Wild and their Houston affiliate all season but the big club made him a full-fledged member on Monday, signing him to a two-year, one-way extension worth $1.65 million.
Prosser, 25, has six assists this season in 23 games with the Wild in four separate call-ups from the USHL team. The Wild are 14-7-2 when he is in the lineup. He’s averaging 20 minutes, 17 seconds of playing time, fourth-most among NHL rookies.
“It’s a good day for me and my family,” said a smiling Prosser following Monday’s practice. “There’s a lot of excitement. It’s my first time signing a one-way deal like this and it’s a dream come true.”
Prosser has been sent back down each time a veteran defenseman gets healthy, but, as the Wild web site article Monday pointed out, starting next season, he won’t have to worry about it. His new contract is a one-way deal, as opposed to the current two-way deal where there’s one set of numbers for when he’s in Houston and another for Minnesota.
“He’s a guy, being around him for two years now, you’ve got to really like his attitude,” said Wild coach Mike Yeo, who also coached Prosser at Houston last year. “You’ve got to really like what he brings to the table as a person and especially the way he’s contributing and the way he’s improved through the better part of a year and a half.”
Prosser originally signed with the Wild on March 18, 2010 shortly after completing his senior season at Colorado College. He played the final three games, notching an assist and a +2 rating.
Last year he played 73 games with the Aeros and posted eight goals and 19 assists, plus two goals and two assists in 24 Calder Cup playoff games.
The Wild returned five defensemen from last year’s team and added veteran Mike Lundin and made room for top prospect Marco Scandella, but Prosser has kept forcing his way into the lineup.
“I just want to do what I can when I get the opportunity,” said Prosser. “Everytime I get that opportunity when my number’s called if it’s for the power play, penalty kill or five-on-five, I want to put my best foot forward and help the teams get wins. That’s what it’s all about.”
The Wild web site article praised Prosser as a rugged, stand-up player:
“The 6-foot-2, 205 pounder is among the most mild-mannered players in the Wild locker room, but he’s developed a reputation for getting gritty and nasty on the ice. He’s among the first to stand up for a teammate, or to confront an opposing agitator as he did on Saturday against Dallas and Steve Ott. After sustaining an upper body injury while blocking a shot in the final game before the All-Star break, Prosser didn’t miss any time and was in the lineup when the Wild returned to the ice less than a week later.”
Prosser stated that his ultimate goal is like any other NHL player — “To raise a Stanley Cup someday” – and his next goal is a more modest one — “To score my first NHL goal, I guess. Maybe on a power play sometime.”
Prosser, who’s married to former ERHS classmate Brittani Metcalfe, is the fourth former Elk to play in the NHL and the first to skate for the home state team. The others were Joel Otto (Calgary and Philadelphia), Dan Hinote (Colorado and St. Louis) and current player Paul Martin (New Jersey and now Pittsburgh).
(Most of the information for this article came from a Minnesota Wild web site article and video of an interview with Prosser).