Nolan opts for Wild ride

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Owen Nolan received the two-year contract he was looking for.

And it was from one of the Calgary Flames' Northwest Division rivals.

Nolan signed a free-agent deal with the Minnesota Wild yesterday, inking a two-year pact worth US$5.5 million.

The right wing said the Wild approached him a few days ago, but he was waiting on another counter-offer from the Flames.

It didn't come, and the 36-year-old, who netted 16 goals and 16 assists, opted for the self-proclaimed State of Hockey.

"I gave Calgary every opportunity to make me a decent offer, and I couldn't wait any more. The Wild came hard after me, and this was too good of an opportunity to pass up," he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "It's a young team, and I think this will be a natural role for me right now. This time in my career, I come with a lot of knowledge. and as long as there are young guys willing to listen, I can teach quite a bit."

The Flames were only willing to give Nolan a one-year deal. Contracts for players at his age count toward the salary cap even if injuries force them to retire.

Last season, the former San Jose Sharks captain played 77 regular season games and all seven playoff contests -- during which he collected three goals and two assists.

That was despite recurring stingers that caused his shoulder/upper arm to go numb.

He said he's "100 per cent healthy -- according to my chiropractor."

Nolan is the fifth player to leave the Flames due to free agency. Kristian Huselius (Columbus), Eric Godard (Pittsburgh), goalie Curtis Joseph (Toronto) and defenceman David Hale (Phoenix) have all signed elsewhere.

Forwards Mark Smith and Stephane Yelle are unsigned.


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