Preds hoping for Weber, Suter-like haul after drafting Jones, Diaby

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Over at the Nashville City Paper, David Boclair has a really interesting look at two of Nashville’s first three picks at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft — defensemen Seth Jones and Jonathan-Ismael Diaby.

In the piece, the Preds talk not just about their selections, but how the organization hopes to replicate what it did at the draft 10 years ago — when it selected Ryan Suter with its first pick, and Shea Weber with its fourth.

“If you think about the characteristics that [Jones and Diaby] have — the way that they both control the entire ice surface, the way they can change games both offensively and defensively,” Preds assistant GM Paul Fenton explained. “To have two guys with that stature and to be able to take that that early in the draft, we were just thrilled to take it.”

Jones, obviously, is the far more recognizable prospect and would be the “Suter” of this analogy (Suter went No. 7 overall in 2003 and was the first blueliner taken in the draft.)

Jones came into the ’13 draft as Central Scouting’s No. 1-ranked North American skater. His fall to No. 4 overall surprised some — including the Predators, who were thrilled to get him.

“Seth is a franchise-type player,” Preds GM David Poile told The Tennessean. “I really feel good about the direction our defense is headed.”

Diaby is more of a wildcard.

Physically, he’s already got NHL size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) but his game lacks offensive refinement. That said, Fenton is convinced the Preds got a steal with Diaby at No. 64 overall — not unlike Weber, who went 49th overall in 2003.

From the City Paper:

They got Diaby to potentially play alongside [Jones] one day.

A 6-foot-4, 220-pounder (he’s a little bigger and heavier than Jones), out of the Quebec Hockey League, he calls to mind Weber, whose most celebrated traits when he was drafted were his size and power.

Diaby is the kind of player who takes care of things in his own end, which seems to be a good fit for the smooth-skating and offensively gifted Jones.

“Diaby is a gigantic specimen in himself,” Fenton said. “When we interviewed him back in May he informed us that he was already 250 pounds.

“This kid is an absolute skyscraper that plays with a mean sense to his game.”

All told, the future of Nashville’s defense looks very bright. Jones and Diaby are now set to join a young group that features Ryan Ellis (22 years old), Roman Josi (23) and Mattias Ekholm (23).

Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

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Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

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Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

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Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

“Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.

Dumoulin agrees to six-year contract with Penguins

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Brian Dumoulin won’t need his arbitration hearing today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.

From the press release:

Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin‘s empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 

Dumoulin is coming off of a contract that paid him just $800,000 in each of the past two seasons.

With Dumoulin signed, Pittsburgh now has five defenseman under contract for at least the next three seasons, the other four being Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, and Matt Hunwick.

The Pens still have one more arbitration case in forward Conor Sheary. His hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Related: Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins