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Poile has ‘fingers crossed’ that Subban returns to Preds soon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) A day after placing defenseman P.K. Subban on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, Nashville Predators general manager David Poile is hopeful the former Norris Trophy winner’s stay on IR is brief.

“I think his timeframe is going to be a good one,” Poile said Monday. “I’ve got my fingers crossed on that.”

Subban has not played in a game since Dec. 15 and has missed Nashville’s last seven contests due to the injury. When placing the blueliner on injured reserve Sunday, the team said Subban will be re-evaluated in two to three weeks. The Predators are 3-2-2 in his absence.

Poile met with reporters Monday after a public practice to discuss the injury and the uncertainty about when the Predators can expect Subban back in the lineup.

“When you do that, just like when we said it is day-to-day, it is just a little bit of a guesstimate in terms of where he is at,” Poile said. “We thought that he would be back sooner, but sometimes this is what happens with injuries.”

Poile noted that Subban has been working out every day and has skated some. Subban is scheduled to talk with reporters Tuesday morning.

Subban leads all Nashville defensemen with seven goals this season. His average ice time of 25:03 per game ranks second on the team, behind only fellow defenseman Roman Josi.

“Whenever you miss a player of his abilities, it takes away from your lineup and everybody’s very curious as to what’s going on,” Poile said.

Entering Monday’s action, the Predators are fifth in the Central Division and 10th in the Western Conference.

Poile has been active in the trade market in recent years. Asked if Subban’s progress might prompt the general manager to acquire a defenseman, Poile said he is expecting Subban back in the next couple weeks.

“Hopefully if I get that date wrong, if it’s off, he’s still coming back,” Poile said. “It’s not like he’s not coming back.”

Asked if the Predators had ruled out the possibility of surgery, a team spokesman stepped in and said, “We’re not talking any more about that.”

The Predators host the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. The Canadiens sent Subban to Nashville in a blockbuster June 29 deal that sent then Predator captain Shea Weber to Montreal.

Weber, who played his 800th career NHL game Saturday, will play his first-ever road game in Nashville Tuesday. He leads the Canadiens in ice time per game at 26:02, and his eight power-play goals lead all NHL defensemen.

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    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