Minnesota inks forward Payer

The Minnesota Wild, parent club of the AHL’s Houston Aeros, have signed free-agent center Serge Payer to a 2007-08 contract.

Payer, 28, collected 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) and 31 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League last season. A veteran of seven pro seasons, Payer has totaled 43 goals and 72 assists for 115 points in 243 career AHL games.

The 6-foot, 191-pound forward also appeared in five NHL contests with Ottawa in 2006-07. In 124 career NHL contests with Ottawa and Florida, Payer has recorded seven goals and six assists for 13 points. In 2000-01, he was the Panthers’ nominee for the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy because of his successful battle with Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

GBS is an inflammatory disorder of the nerves and can be as sever as causing patients to be virtually paralyzed. The disorder is the most rapidly acquired paralysis in the United States and affects two out of every 100,000 people. Payer was diagnosed with GBS in 1999 and has since made a successful return to hockey. He established the Serge Payer Foundation in 2000, which has raised over $54,000 for GBS research. The foundation hosts boat cruises, golf tournaments and other functions annually to raise money for the cause.