ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -The Minnesota Wild avoided arbitration with defenseman Nick Schultz on Monday, signing him to a one-year deal three days before a scheduled hearing.
The 24-year-old Schultz is entering his sixth season as a pro player. He had two goals and 10 assists and led the team in blocked shots last season on his way to becoming the first Wild defenseman to play in all 82 regular-season games.
One of the team's most reliable defensemen, Schultz first gained popularity with Wild fans for his mature play in Minnesota's surprising run to the Western Conference finals in 2003, his second season with the club. Schultz skated in all 18 games during the run and tied for the team lead with a plus-five rating.
``Nick's continued improvement and durability make him the consummate team player,'' general manager Doug Risebrough said in a statement. ``He's established himself as an important presence on our blue line, and we're very happy that we could reach a contract agreement.''

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