Phoenix Coyotes right winger Shane Doan, left, is checked by Minnesota Wild defenseman Nick Schultz, right, as Doan chases a loose puck behind the Wild net in the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007, in Arizona. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Paul Connors)
MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota Wild defenceman Nick Schultz signed a US$21-million, six-year contract extension Saturday, a few months before he would have hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.
The 25-year-old Schultz, who has served as the Wild's captain for January and February, is playing this season on a $1.85-million, one year deal. His 428 career games are the third-most in team history.
"He's been steady. He's been solid for us. He's been growing as a player, too. He's been playing much better," coach Jacques Lemaire said after practice at Parade Ice Garden in Minneapolis.
Schultz, a second-round pick by the Wild in their first draft in 2000, has 18 goals and 55 assists with only one game missed to injury over his six-year career. He leads the club in blocked shots with 102 and has one goal and 10 assists this season.
Schultz downplayed the effect of the captaincy, which the coaching staff chooses each month, but the Wild have lauded his maturity and improvement over the past two seasons.
"You want to play with confidence," Schultz said. "That's how you're going to play your best."