Martin signs with Penguins, Leopold with Sabres

Derek Wetmore

Martin to Penguins

Former Gophers hockey player Paul Martin signed a five-year, $25 million free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, first reported Thursday by ESPN.com.

The former Gopher attended Elk River high school and helped Minnesota to consecutive NCAA Division I championships in 2002 and 2003. After his junior season with the Gophers, Martin was drafted in the second round by New Jersey and left to play for the Devils. Martin was thought by many to be one of the top two-way defensemen in this year’s free agency class, which began at 11 p.m. central time Wednesday.

Leopold to Sabres

Another former Gophers hockey player, Jordan Leopold, agreed to a free agent contract with a new team. Leopold agreed to terms with the Buffalo Sabres on a 3-year $9 million contract. Leopold played for the Gophers from 1998-2002, winning two national titles, and was drafted by Anaheim in 1999. In his final season with Minnesota, Leopold won the Hobey Baker Award as the best college hockey player in the country.

Wild sign former Husky

The Minnesota Wild were also active on the first day of free agency, signing former St. Cloud State Husky Matt Cullen to a 3-year $10.5 million deal. Cullen spent his high schools days skating with the Moorhead Spuds. While with St. Cloud State, Cullen played with former Wild player and Bloomington-native Mark Parrish. Cullen was one of the top two-way centers in this year’s free agency class and should be a second-line center the Wild have long coveted.