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Nick Bonino going to Predators for reported four-year, $16.4 million deal

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After winning back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins it appears as if veteran center Nick Bonino is moving on and will be signing with the team he just helped beat in this year’s Final.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Bonino has signed with the Nashville Predators on Saturday on a four-year contract that will pay him $4.1 million per season.

That addition could also indicate that Nashville will not be getting veteran center Mike Fisher back (he was contemplating retirement) while it would almost certainly give Bonino an expanded role from the one he had in Pittsburgh the past two seasons where he was the team’s third-line center.

During the later stages of the 2015-16 season and through their Stanley Cup run that year that third line, which also consisted of Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin, was arguably Pittsburgh’s best and one of the driving forces behind their championship. It never seemed to produce the same magic this year but Bonino still had his moments, especially during the stretch run of the regular season where he scored the bulk of his 18 goals.

This summer was probably the perfect time for Bonino to hit the unrestricted free agent market.

Not only is it a thin crop of top-line players, especially at center, but he also has a lot of the intangible factors working in his favor, including the fact he is a two-time Cup winner and has scored some huge goals in big moments (the “clutch” factor).

One thing that is going to be a pretty big adjustment for him is that he is probably going to be expected to carry a bit more of the offensive workload in Nashville where it is looking like he would be the No. 2 center behind Ryan Johansen. In Pittsburgh, he had the luxury of playing on the third-line behind two of the best offensive players in the world. He could focus more on the defensive side of the game and being more of a complementary player on a cheap contract where any offense he provided was a bonus. Now, with a bigger price tag and what should be a bigger role expectations are going to be a lot higher.

Dahlin headlines Sweden’s roster for World Junior Summer Showcase

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Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, potentially the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2018, will suit up for Sweden at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.

Dahlin, who doesn’t turn 18 until April, has wowed scouts with his skating and puck-moving ability. At the 2017 World Juniors, he participated as a 16-year-old, garnering tantalizing reviews in the process.

Top-10 picks in the 2017 draft, Elias Pettersson (5th, Vancouver Canucks) and Lias Andersson (7th, New York Rangers), will also be in Plymouth representing Sweden.

Click here for Sweden’s and Finland’s Summer Showcase rosters. The tournament runs from July 29 – Aug. 5 and also features players from the United States and Canada.

Among the draft-eligible Finns to watch is 17-year-old forward Jesse Ylonen, who could be a late first-rounder in 2018.

Related: USA Hockey invites 42 players to World Junior Summer Showcase

All of a sudden, hope for hockey in Houston

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Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the NBA’s Rockets has revived hope for a hockey team in Houston.

That’s because Alexander is arguably the biggest reason that Houston doesn’t already have a team. The 72-year-old billionaire controls Toyota Center, where the Rockets play. Without getting into all the details, he’s essentially been the only one who could bring an NHL franchise to the city.

From the Houston Press:

But Alexander selling the Rockets (and the lease that goes with it), opens up an NHL-ready hockey arena in Houston. And that’s something that Seattle, which the NHL seemed to favor, can’t offer, and unlike Quebec City, Houston offers up a huge media market with many, many large corporations around to buy up luxury seats.

Houston is certainly a big city. In fact, only four metro areas in the United States — New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas — have higher populations.

And Houston is growing fast.

Jeremy Jacobs, the influential owner of the Boston Bruins, has not hidden his desire to put an NHL team in Toyota Center. Back in 2015, he told ESPN.com, “I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

Perhaps soon the NHL won’t have that impediment.

Predators hire new assistant coach in wake of Housley departure

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The Nashville Predators have hired Dan Muse as an assistant coach.

Muse, who spent the last two years as head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel, will be in charge of the Preds’ forwards as well as the penalty kill, while associate head coach Kevin McCarthy  — in the wake of Phil Housley’s departure — will now have responsibility for the defense and the power play.

Muse led the Steel to a championship in May. He also won an NCAA title in 2013 as an assistant coach for Yale.

“Dan comes to us as a successful young coach that brings great energy and passion to the game,” said Preds head coach Peter Laviolette in a statement. “He has worked his way up through the coaching ranks, first winning an NCAA title at Yale in 2013, and then taking a Chicago team that had missed the playoffs eight straight seasons and turned them into the Clark Cup champions in just two seasons. We are excited to welcome him to the organization and look forward to his contributions to the coaching staff.”

Senators avoid arbitration with Ryan Dzingel

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The Ottawa Senators have narrowly avoided arbitration with Ryan Dzingel.

Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Dzingel has signed a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

Dzingel’s hearing was scheduled for today. Last season, the 25-year-old forward had 14 goals and 18 assists in 81 games.

Earlier this week, the Sens also avoided arbitration with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, though that case didn’t go down to the wire like Dzingel’s did.

Pageau and Dzingel were the only Sens with arbitration hearings scheduled.

Related: Sens want to avoid arbitration with Dzingel