Pop quiz hot shots: Who led the Nashville Predators in goals last season?
Before you go running off to look that up, we’ll just tell you it was center David Legwand with 12. He was one of three players on the team to reach double figures in goals and if you can guess the other two guys, you’re clearly keeping very busy. (FYI: It was Gabriel Bourque and Mike Fisher).
Why the run-around on the questions? To show that the Preds are going to need to find their offense from somewhere.
Free agent additions Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg will add speed to the wing and solid play up the middle as well as 16 total goals combined from last season. If Stalberg can repeat what he did in 2011-12 with Chicago, 20-plus goals would be a boon for Nashville’s offense.
The guy they’ll have to hope has a big bounce-back season, however, is Patric Hornqvist.
The Swedish power forward missed half of last season with varying injuries and his presence in front of opposing goals reminds many of the work Tomas Holmstrom did in Detroit. Pretty goals aren’t his forte but the Preds don’t care how they get in, just that they do. After three straight solid seasons of scoring, they need that effort back.
With how the Predators defense stacks up, a lot of their offense will come from there. Shea Weber’s gigantic shot and the skills of Roman Josi and Seth Jones should help stir things up as well.
Only thing that’s certain in Nashville is they’ll be able to keep teams off the board well enough. If they can’t put crooked numbers up on their own side, however, making the playoffs will be an arduous process.
The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.
This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.
Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.
What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.
That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.
Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.
The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.
Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.
In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.
“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”
The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.
The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.
Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.
The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.
With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.
But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.
Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season
Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.
Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.
In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.
Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.