Former Pittsburgh Penguins center Matt Cullen (7) celebrates after scoring in the second period against Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on April 29, 2017, in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. File photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo
The Minnesota Wild signed free agent center Matt Cullen, who decided to return for a 20th NHL season after winning back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The deal is a one-year, $1 million contract plus $700,000 in potential performance bonuses, the Wild announced Wednesday.
The 40-year-old Minnesota native and former St. Cloud State standout made a family decision not to retire and instead return for a second stint with his home-state Wild.
Cullen recorded 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in 72 games with the Penguins in 2016-17 and won 51.2 percent of faceoffs taken while averaging 13:55 in time on ice per game. He added two goals and seven assists in 25 playoff games and won 56.4 percent of faceoffs taken to help the Penguins win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.
Cullen previously signed as a free agent with the Wild on July 1, 2010, and collected 101 points (33 goals, 68 assists) in 193 games during three seasons in Minnesota (2010-13) and skated in his 1,000th career NHL game on Jan. 10, 2012.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound native of Virginia, Minn., owns 689 points (248 goals, 441 assists) and 558 penalty minutes in 1,366 career NHL games during 19 seasons with Anaheim, Florida, Carolina, the New York Rangers, Ottawa, Minnesota, Nashville and Pittsburgh.
Cullen ranks sixth amongst active NHL players in games played. He has won over 50 percent of faceoffs taken in every season since 2003-04, and has scored 10 or more goals in 15 of his 19 campaigns. He also tallied 56 points (18 goals, 38 assists) in 123 career Stanley Cup Playoff games and won the Stanley Cup three times: in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes and in the last two seasons with the Penguins.
Cullen, who turns 41 in November, was originally selected by Anaheim in the second round (35th overall) of the 1996 NHL draft. He has represented the United States at the 1996 World Junior Championship, the 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2004 World Championships and the 2006 Olympics.