Wild captain Koivu’s long run comes to an end in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Mikko Koivu’s extraordinary career with the Minnesota Wild is over.

General manager Bill Guerin said Friday the team will not resign the 37-year-old Finn, whose contract is expiring.

Koivu is the only full-time captain the club has had — he was appointed in 2009 after the role was rotated monthly over the first nine years of the franchise. He is the all-time Wild leader in games, assists, points and several other categories,

Koivu returned from reconstructive right knee surgery for a 15th season and had four goals and 17 assists in 55 games while playing mostly on the fourth line.

“His hard work, dedication and team-first mentality will be extremely difficult to replace in our lineup,′ Guerin said. ”Off the ice, Mikko’s impact in the State of Hockey was immeasurable as he went out of his way to make a positive impact on so many people in our community, including his charitable contributions to Children’s Minnesota.”

Koivu was drafted sixth overall in 2001 and made his NHL debut on Nov. 11, 2005. He is the first player to play all 1,000 NHL games with Minnesota.

Earlier this month, the Wild acquired center Nick Bjugstad from Pittsburgh for a conditional selection in the 2021 draft. The 28-year-old Bjugstad, who has 97 goals, 110 assists and 681 hits in 439 career NHL games, will be asked to fill the role of a checking center.

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Bjugstad will enter the final year of the six-year, $24.6 million contract extension he signed with the Florida Panthers, who drafted him with the 19th overall pick in 2010. Bjugstad had a career-best 49 points in 82 games with the Panthers in 2017-18, the only NHL season in which he has not missed any time.

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