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Former Bulldog Faulk signs contract extension with Hurricanes

Former Minnesota Duluth player Justin Faulk signed a contract extension with the Carolina Hurricanes. (MCT)

Former Minnesota Duluth defenseman Justin Faulk has signed a six-year, $29 million contract extension with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, the team announced Monday.

Faulk, 22, who helped the Bulldogs win a national title in his one season at UMD and who was on the U.S. team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is in his third season with the Hurricanes.

“Justin has proven to be among the best young defensemen in the league as confirmed by his selection to the U.S. Olympic team,” Jim Rutherford, the Hurricanes’ president and general manager, said in a news release. “He has been and will continue to be the anchor of the Hurricanes’ defense for years to come.”

Under the terms of the extension, Faulk will earn $2.5 million in 2014-15, $3.5 million in 2015-16, $5.5 million in 2016-17 and 2017-18, and $6 million in 2018-19 and 2019-20, the team announced.

“I think (Rutherford) said it best. He said, ‘You won’t have to worry about this for a long time now,’ ” Faulk told the Hurricanes’ website. “It’s nice and relaxing that you don’t have to worry about it for six more years.”

Faulk, a native of South St. Paul, excelled soon after making Carolina’s roster in the fall of 2011. He had eight goals and 14 assists in his first season and was named to the NHL All-Rookie team. The 6-foot, 215-pounder followed that up with a five-goal, 10-assist season shortened to 38 games due to the NHL lockout.

He’s tallied three times and added 21 assists in 65 games so far this season to give him 61 points in 169 career games. He ranks second on the team in ice time, averaging 23.21 minutes per game.

“He’s young, but he’s gaining experience quickly in the amount of minutes he’s playing. His maturity level has given him an opportunity to grow in those roles,” coach Kirk Muller told the Hurricanes’ website.

Now Faulk has his sights set on the Stanley Cup playoffs, something which has eluded him his first two seasons and is a longshot this spring.

“It’s something you want to be a part of,” he said on the team’s website. “It’s not fun going home at the end of the season and watching on TV.”