Wild lock up defenseman Scandella with five-year extension

Marco Scandella on Saturday became the latest young, core player for the Minnesota Wild to sign a long-term extension.

Brace Hemmelgarn/Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A night after his third game-winning goal of the season, defenseman Marco Scandella was rewarded with a new contract by the Minnesota Wild.

Minnesota signed Scandella, a second-round draft pick by the team in 2008, to a five-year extension Saturday. Scandella, 24, scored in overtime of the Wild’s 5-4 win at Dallas Friday and leads NHL defensemen with three game-winning goals and is tied for sixth in goals among all defenseman.

General manager Chuck Fletcher said the deal came together quickly and assistant manager Brent Flahr worked out the details, which the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported is for $20 million over the five years.

"Brent did the deal, so I was just saying to him, ‘Get this thing done. It’s not going to get any cheaper,’" Fletcher joked about Scandella’s knack for overtime winners.

Scandella has five goals, three assists, a team-high 32 penalty minutes and is a plus-7 this season, developing a two-way game after being one of the team’s steadiest defenders in the playoffs last season.

"Bigger players sometimes take a little longer to develop," Fletcher said of the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Scandella. "You look at Marco. He’s a great skater, he’s physically very strong and he has great reach, so he’s arguably our top defensive defenseman and when you see the maturation of his game offensively, it’s a real nice combination of skills to have."

Said Scandella: "Super happy with the organization having the confidence in me. I just love all my teammates here. I really like it in Minnesota and I’m super happy."

Minnesota approached Scandella’s agent before the season with the defenseman set to become a restricted free agent next summer. Scandella’s side wanted to let the season begin and Flahr approached with another offer last week.

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"It’s always on your mind but it happened pretty quick," Scandella said of the contract situation. "It was great to get it over with. Now, just stick to the process and get going and keep building here."

Fletcher said the extension was agreed upon following about three or four phone calls. Scandella is signed through the 2019-20 season, becoming the fifth Wild player under contract for the next five-plus seasons.

"Marco had a strong desire to stay here and committing five years — and three of those are unrestricted years — so that’s certainly a big commitment on his part," Fletcher said. "He likes the direction of the team, he likes his role on the team and he likes his teammates, so it doesn’t happen without the player wholeheartedly buying into what we’re trying to accomplish. So we’re very happy. He’s just another key piece of the puzzle, a homegrown talent."

Fletcher credited his predecessor Doug Risebrough for selecting Scandella in the second round of the draft in 2008. Scandella spent three seasons bouncing between the NHL and American Hockey League, finally becoming a full-time player last season for Minnesota when he had three goals, 14 assists and was a plus-10 in 76 games.

Scandella was rewarded for his development Saturday.

"He can play against anybody and you’re not going to always win every battle you get in, but he’s already a very good player defensively and the offensive part of his game has grown as he gains confidence," Fletcher said. "So, it really isn’t a difficult decision. It was just trying to extend the contract out as long as we could."

Scandella is the third player signed to a long-term extension during the season after forward Charlie Coyle and defenseman Jonas Brodin reached new deals with Minnesota. The Wild also signed forward Nino Niederreiter and goaltender Darcy Kuemper before the season.

Scandella, Brodin and Coyle join Zach Parise and Ryan Suter as the core signed through the 2019-20 season.

"The players have to want to commit too, and that’s what I like," Fletcher said. "They’re all very close, they’re all good friends. They all have prominent roles on the team. They’re very important parts of our present, but I think we’re seeing a lot of them take a big step this year. Again, I think a few of them are just scratching the surface of where they’ll get to and Marco is certainly one of those guys."

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