Calle Jarnkrok

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The Buzzer: Subban showdown, Forsling be with you

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Player of the Night: Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets

PHT already gave Panarin (and his five primary assists) the spotlight in the form of a full post, so check that out here. His performance demands a repeat mention as the best of the night, nonetheless.

Runner-up: Gustav Forsling, Chicago Blackhawks

Forsling, 21, grabbed points in all three of Chicago’s goals as the Blackhawks imposed their will on the Sabres (51 shots on goal) in a 3-2 overtime win. Forsling scored the overtime game-clincher, with a simple-solid bit of good work:

Subban vs. Subban, plus Neal’s return to Nashville

The Golden Knights’ eventual shootout win against the Predators was brimming with storylines, particularly for a fairly run-of-the-mill Friday in early December, when the “new car smell” is starting to wear off an NHL season.

(You know, when there isn’t a lockout.)

Anyway, you’d have to give Malcolm Subban the edge in this one, as he really had a strong game in helping his team beat P.K. Subban and the Predators. Malcolm even set a new career-high:

Curiously, Predators coach Peter Laviolette decided *not* to use P.K. against his brother, even though the shootout went six rounds and Malcolm was not beaten, something The Score noted tonight.

The other fun narrative was James Neal‘s return to Nashville after being one of the most prominent expansion draft losses, as Golden Knights GM George McPhee was driving a hard bargain. To little surprise, what with the departure not being Neal’s fault, he was given a warm reception.

Neal then scored a very, well, James Neal goal:

Amusingly, Calle Jarnkrok answered with a goal of his own about a minute later. As you may remember, Jarnkrok was one of the key players Nashville protected instead of Neal. You have to love when sports stories come together like that, right?

(Lavi shakes his head no, makes it a point not to put P.K. against Malcolm Subban, ever.)

Highlight of the Night

Here’s your latest reminder that Jack Eichel is awesome and doesn’t deserve the bulk of the blame for Buffalo’s bumbling. Also, I’m a big sucker for a great moment where a player shows skill keep the puck in the zone, so this one puts many checkmarks in many boxes, personally:

More Factoids

More on Subban vs. Subban:

And a bonus bit about Artemi Panarin, beyond the Blue Jackets-specific stuff:

Scores

Blue Jackets 5, Devils 3
Capitals 4, Rangers 2
Golden Knights 4, Predators 3 (SO)
Blackhawks 3, Sabres 2 (OT)
Wild 3, Ducks 2 (OT)

Bonus highlight

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Turris on Ottawa contract talks: ‘very apparent things weren’t going to work out’

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The negotiations were “healthy,” as Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion described, but while the team and the camp of Kyle Turris agreed on dollars, the term was a sticking point in trying to agree on an extension.

Turris was seeking the maximum term possible in eight years, but Dorion wasn’t too keen on investing in the player for that long.

“When it came to the contract negotiation, we just felt that there wasn’t going to be a lot of movement from 7-8 years,” Dorion said Monday morning. “Six years was never put on the table. At the same time, we’re OK with that.”

Turris confirmed during a conference call that six years wasn’t discussed at all by either side. “It was very apparent that things weren’t going to work out in Ottawa,” he said.

Six years, $36 million was what Turris ended up signing for after the three-way trade with the Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators was completed on Sunday. When Predators GM David Poile was asked about any hesitance inking a 28-year-old to a long deal like that, he said they felt comfortable with the length.

[Breaking down blockbuster Matt Duchene, Kyle Turris trade]

Turris only had a few hours to process and agree to a contract with the Predators, so after talking it over with his wife they agreed that Nashville would be a good fit.

“We’ve heard so many great things about the city, the people there, the neighborhoods, the school systems and obviously, the franchise is in such a great place,” he said.

The biggest deal of the young NHL season wouldn’t have been consummated, however, if Turris didn’t sign that extension. Poile said he started talking with Turris’s agent after the three teams agreed to the trade, and that the whole thing wouldn’t have gone through unless he had the center’s signature on a contract.

Turris, who likely won’t debut with his new team until the weekend, was in the final months of a five-year deal he signed with the Senators in 2012. Poile said that after the dust settled during free agency over the summer and he saw how the 2018 unrestricted free agent center market was shaping up, that’s when Turris jumped onto their radar.

This move strengthens the Predators down the middle adding Turris to a group that features Ryan Johansen, Nick Bonino, Colton Sissons and Calle Jarnkrok. Depending on how head coach Peter Laviolette sets it up, Bonino could move to a top-six wing spot, according to Poile.

MORE: Turris trade shows Predators are going all-in for Stanley Cup

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Turris trade shows Predators are going all-in for Stanley Cup

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If there was any doubt, acquiring and then extending Kyle Turris made this clear: the Nashville Predators are going all-in to win a Stanley Cup. Parting ways with two very promising prospects is just part of why they’re in win-now mode (or something close to it).

The tantalizing thing for Nashville is that they now boast arguably the most complete roster in the NHL, at least with a healthy Ryan Ellis and Nick Bonino.

  • The quartet of Ellis, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm probably still stands as the class of the league. If not, they’re so close you have to squint to see the difference against who’s better.
  • Suddenly, the Predators look deep at forward, especially at center.

Predators GM David Poile might be right when he calls Turris “one of the best two-way centers” in the NHL. Peter Laviolette must be getting his mad science lab ready for this – or at least cleaning out his line blender? – as Turris generates a domino effect that could help other forwards.

Ryan Johansen gets some support, which shouldn’t be underrated as his numbers have suffered a bit this season, even as his line with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson remains lethal.

[Breaking down blockbuster Matt Duchene, Kyle Turris trade]

Turris can make a second line more dangerous with the likes of Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith, or perhaps Laviolette gets even more experimental than that? Either way, when healthy, Bonino seems like a much better fit as a third-line center. Other teams might have more dynamic forward groups, but the Predators no longer lack that necessary punch to win games.

Honestly, if I were David Poile, I’d consider trying to sign pending RFA Saros to a bargain extension, possibly allowing Saros to become the Matt Murray to Rinne’s Marc-Andre Fleury.

Big decisions coming (and big bargains going away)

With Turris in tow, the Predators are locked into several players for at least four years: Turris, Johansen, Forsberg, Arvidsson, Bonino, P.K. Subban, Mattias Ekholm and Calle Jarnkrok. According to Cap Friendly, the Predators have $53.1M going to 12 players in 2019-20 and $43.1M to just eight in 2020-21.

Some of those contracts are outright steals, but even so, those commitments may force others out, eventually. There are some key choices coming soon, making it that much more obvious for Nashville to go win-now.

Significant names expiring after 2018-19: Pekka Rinne, Ryan Ellis, and Kevin Fiala (Fiala will be an RFA).

With a $2.5M cap hit, Ryan Ellis ranks as one of the NHL’s most staggering bargains. These are the types of deals that give you an edge, but it’s ending soon, and you can’t begrudge Ellis if he wants to get paid what he’s worth. That might end up being too much for Nashville.

Then again, Rinne’s $7M expires in the same summer of 2019. Poile must determine what to do with Saros and Rinne, and those net deadlines aren’t far away.

Key deals expiring after 2019-20: Roman Josi and Craig Smith.

Much like Ellis, Josi is a bargain at $4M, but that goes away in three seasons.

Maybe Poile is just planning to move money from the likes of Rinne and Smith to the likes of Ellis, Josi, and Saros? Even if that works out, the point is that Nashville would possibly need to go top-heavy, losing some of the edge they have now.

Poile is pushing the right buttons

The overall point is not that the Predators can only complete for a title between now and 2018-19 or 2019-20.

We’ve seen teams enjoy deep runs when it seemed like their peaks passed; it’s easy to forget that the 2015-16 San Jose Sharks were far from a favorite to represent the West when they did.

Still, the Predators can look to other champions to see some examples of small windows of bargains paying off. When their rival the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in decades, they did it as rookie contracts were expiring for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Poile seems shrewd enough to keep his Predators in the thick of things for a while, but from here, the next few years represent Nashville’s biggest window to win it all. From there, their ceiling could get shorter.

MORE: Turris on Ottawa contract talks: ‘very apparent things weren’t going to work out’

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Preds expect answer from Fisher next week

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We should find out next week if Mike Fisher is going to retire or keep playing for the Predators.

Fisher, Nashville’s 37-year-old captain, is an unrestricted free agent. He confirmed last month that he was considering retirement. But first, he needed some time to think.

Yesterday, Preds GM David Poile said he expected an answer soon.

“I’m hoping to talk to him later this week to see where he’s at,” Poile said, per The Tennessean. “I’d say by next week, we should have an update.”

Fisher had 18 goals and 24 assists in 72 games last season, but then had just four assists in 20 playoff games as the Preds reached their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

If Fisher re-signs, he’ll likely be in the bottom six next season, with Ryan Johansen and newly signed Nick Bonino expected to center the top two lines. Fisher could even be the fourth-line center or a winger, allowing the likes of Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, and Frederick Gaudreau to take on bigger roles.

But for Fisher, hockey isn’t everything, and after more than 1,000 games in the NHL, he may simply opt to hang up the skates.

“Everyone wants to win in this game, no one probably more than me,” Fisher said. “But there’s other things. At the end of the day, this is a game. It’s an important part of my life, but it’s not everything.”

Related: Predators take Stanley Cup loss with grace and optimism

Predators are one Johansen deal away from a salary cap work of art

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If you need to kill some time, play this game: which Nashville Predators contract is the biggest steal?

If Viktor Arvidsson is as much of a difference-maker as his limited NHL reps indicate, his $4.25 million cap hit over seven years is certainly in the running. Still, there are plenty of choices.

  • The defense alone is bargain-filled, making P.K. Subban‘s $9 million cap hit easy to stomach.

Ryan Ellis‘ $2.5 million cap hit doesn’t run out until after 2018-19. Mattias Ekholm‘s less of a “well-kept secret” following Nashville’s run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, yet his $3.75M steal runs through 2021-22. Roman Josi can be a bit polarizing but at $4M for three more seasons, it’s not controversial to say that he’s probably at least worth the money.

  • The offensive bargains begin with the top line.

Arvidsson has the makings of a legit first-line winger, and that deal is highly likely to be regrettable … for his agent and accountant.

Filip Forsberg‘s $6M isn’t as audacious as some of those defensive steals, but it’s still pretty nice. That total also makes it easier for the Predators to try to control costs for their one remaining big consideration: Ryan Johansen, who still needs a deal as an RFA.

  • Calle Jarnkrok is a pretty nifty get at $2M per season, especially if he grows with a contract that runs through 2021-22.
  • Scott Hartnell took quite the homecoming discount at $1M for 2017-18.
  • As you go deeper, the Predators enjoy some nice deals on players who are under ELC’s or second contracts: Kevin Fiala ($863K), Frederick Gaudreau ($667K), Pontus Aberg ($650K) and Colton Sissons ($625K) could all be helpful contributors at low costs.

This tweet really sells the point, in case this post hasn’t: GM David Poile hasn’t been slowing down much since being named GM of the Year. And he might just be the best executive in the NHL right now.

  • It’s all pretty immaculate; even if you’re not a fan of Pekka Rinne, his $7 million cap hit expires in two seasons. By then, the Predators could very well transition to Juuse Saros, possibly echoing the Penguins with Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray along the way.

Overall, it’s an enviable situation, as Nashville’s clean cap ranks with Pittsburgh and few others as the best-looking in the NHL. That’s especially true when you consider the fact that the Lightning are allocating $8.8 million to the shaky duo of former Rangers in Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi.

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Still, the Predators aren’t done for the summer, as Johansen stands as a tricky situation. They don’t have the helpful deadline of arbitration looming, so the two sides are just going to have to figure something out … eventually.

Even so, Cap Friendly pegs them at $13.43 million in cap space, so they have room to work with their first-line center.

While teams like the Penguins and Blackhawks stocked up on high draft picks, the Predators’ greatest moves have largely come through shrewd drafting, savvy trades, and forward-thinking contract extensions. One can debate which setup is the best, but Poile’s work places Nashville in the upper crust, and their built to stay there for years to come.

Related: Matt Murray, Jake Guentzel could help Penguins compete for years.