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Wild sign Minnesotan as backup goalie

ST. PAUL--In fitting fashion for a Minnesotan, Alex Stalock was at his cabin when he received word that the Wild had signed him to a contract. The goalie from South St. Paul and former Minnesota Duluth player was ecstatic at the news, even if it ...

ST. PAUL-In fitting fashion for a Minnesotan, Alex Stalock was at his cabin when he received word that the Wild had signed him to a contract.

The goalie from South St. Paul and former Minnesota Duluth player was ecstatic at the news, even if it means he will head to training camp with the Wild as the third goalie on the depth chart, likely beginning next season with the organization's minor league affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa.

"To be able to come back and play for a team that you watched growing up and still tend to watch even when you're with a different organization, that's exciting," Stalock said. "To be able to realize that a dream came true and come back home and be able to play for that organization is quite the honor. It's special for us to have family close, so everyone can watch and keep an eye. It's pretty cool."

Stalock spent the past seven seasons in the San Jose Sharks organization after playing three years at Minnesota Duluth.

He has played 62 career NHL games in a backup role. After a down season last year, he likely will open the 2016-17 season as the Wild's top goalie in the American Hockey League.

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After posting a 2.94 goals-against average and .884 save percentage in 13 games with the Sharks, Stalock believes time in the minors will help improve his game.

"Obviously last year wasn't a great year for me," Stalock said. "It happens to athletes. For goalies, if you're not playing, it's hard. I'm excited for this deal because I have the chance to go out and play. For me, that's what I need to do is play games.

"It's a way to get my game back on track, feel good about my game, and also improve on things that need to be improved. There's no better way to do that than in game situations. You work as hard as you can in practice and do everything you can to stay up to speed when you get the call. But at the same time, it's not game speed. The best thing for a goalie is an actual 60-minute game."

Stalock's contract is a one-year, two-way deal.

Stalock led South St. Paul to the Class A high school state tournament in 2004 and earned a spot on the all-tournament team.

Vanek joins Wings

A week after the Wild bought out forward Thomas Vanek, the former Gopher signed a new contract with the Detroit Red Wings.

Vanek signed a one-year deal worth $2.6 million, far less than the $6.5 million Vanek averaged per year with the Wild.

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The move gives Vanek a chance to show his two subpar seasons with the Wild were an anomaly and is a low-risk deal for the Red Wings.

Vanek recorded a career-low 18 goals last season and a career-low 41 points. The season before, his first with the Wild, he recorded 21 goals and 52 points.

The Wild bought out the final year of Vanek's deal with Minnesota last week, saving the team $5 million in cap space for next season.

Related Topics: HOCKEYMINNESOTA WILD
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