Author: Mike Halford


Preds sign ‘integral’ Smith to five-year, $21.25M extension


The Nashville Predators have locked in one of their best goalscorers, signing Craig Smith to a five-year, $21.25 million extension on Monday.

The deal, which carries a $4.25 million cap hit, is a nice raise from the $2M Smith made annually on his last deal.

“As evidenced by his back-to-back 20-goal seasons and performance in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Craig Smith is an integral part of our team’s young core and we are pleased to have agreed on a long-term contract that both parties are comfortable with,” Preds GM David Poile said in a release. “With Craig’s durability, work ethic and intensity, we see him continuing the build on his recent production and be a valuable contributor to our offensive attack for the next five seasons.”

Smith, 25, scored five points in six games during Nashville’s opening-round playoff loss to Chicago, and was one of just four Preds forwards to average more than 20 minutes per game. The former University of Wisconsin standout is, as Poile mentioned, also one of the organization’s most durable players — since breaking in during the 2011-12 campaign, Smith has appeared in 277 of a possible 294 games, and played all 82 last season.

With this deal done, Poile now has just one key RFA to re-sign — Colin Wilson, the former first-round pick that scored a career-high 20 goals and 42 points last season.

Coyotes sign Dahlbeck, acquired in Vermette trade

Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes continued to lock in some of their younger prospects on Monday, agreeing to terms with defenseman Klas Dahlbeck and forward Jordan Martinook.

Per the club, Dahlbeck — acquired in the deadline deal for Antoine Vermette — has inked a one-year, two-way deal while Martinook’s is for two-years, and also a two-way.

Dahlbeck, 24, split last season between Arizona and Chicago, scoring four points in 23 games. At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, he’s got good size and should compete for a spot on the Arizona blueline next season.

Martinook, 22, was the club’s second-round pick (58th overall) in 2012 and appeared in eight NHL games last year, spending most of the season with the club’s AHL affiliate.

Like Dahlbeck, Martinook should challenge for a roster spot next year; the Coyotes have said they’re going to “fast-track” some prospects to the NHL next season, meaning the likes of prized youngsters (Anthony Duclair, Max Domi, Henrik Samuelsson, Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak) will compete next to some less-heralded talents (like Dahlbeck, Martinook, Phillip Samuelsson and Brendan Shinnimin.)

Maatta (shoulder) expects to be ready for Pens training camp

Olli Maatta

Olli Maatta says he doesn’t look back on the 2014-15 campaign.

That’s probably a good thing.

After a year in which he had a cancerous tumor removed from his neck, got the mumps and had season-ending shoulder surgery, the young Finnish blueliner only wants to look forward to next season, and get healthy for training camp.

“We’re on the schedule,” Maatta said this week, per “Obviously the goal is to be ready for training camp. Everything is going as we planned, so that’s the goal.”

With Paul Martin now in San Jose and Christian Ehrhoff still entertaining free agent offers, the Pens will certainly need Maatta on the back end — and for him to stay injury-free. After scoring nine points in 20 games last year, the shoulder ailment sidelined him on Dec. 6 and the decision to have surgery was made in mid-January.

That essentially snuffed out what many thought would be an impressive campaign; as a rookie in ’13-14, Maatta showed great promise by scoring nine goals and 29 points in 78 games, finishing fifth in Calder voting.

Caps sign tough guy Sill to one-year, two-way deal

Tom Wilson, Zach Sill

Washington has brought in someone to lessen Tom Wilson and Michael Latta’s fight load — Zach Sill, who announced his one-year, two-way deal to the Truro Daily News on Wednesday.

“They came with an offer and it was a good one,” Sill said. “I think there’s a good chance I’ll be able to play there. They have a good strong team and it looks like a good situation to go into.”

The 27-year-old split last season between Pittsburgh and Toronto, finishing with four points in 63 games… and nine fights. Sill’s willingness to drop the gloves should make Washington an even feistier team next year; the Caps were tied for the eighth-most fighting majors (31) last year, thanks in large part to Wilson (who fought 12 times — once against Sill!) and Latta (who fought eight).

No word yet on the financial details of Sill’s deal.

In Klingberg, Stars say they ‘got a chance of having the next Karlsson’

John Klingberg

Whenever you compare a young defensemen two a two-time Norris Trophy winner, you’re going to garner some attention — and that’s exactly what Dallas GM Jim Nill has done by comparing rookie d-man John Klingberg to Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson.

“We think we’ve got a chance of having the next Karlsson,” Nill said, per “We think [Klingberg’s] heading that direction, and if he continues to improve, I think he will be that type of player.

“We’re sitting good.”

While he’s got a ways to go before reaching that level, Klingberg’s offensive potential makes the comparison somewhat legit. He enjoyed a tremendous first year in Dallas, finishing first among all rookie defensemen with 11 goals and 40 points in 65 games (the goals, assists and points were all single-season Stars records for a rookie d-man.)

The 22-year-old finished fifth in Calder voting and the Stars wasted no time locking him up long-term, signing him to a seven-year, $29.75 million deal just days after the regular season ended.

“John is a very special player, possessing a creativity and skill level that few in this league can match,” Nill said at the time. “He fits in perfectly with where our core is at age-wise and his impact on our team was felt immediately.

“We expect him to build off of his rookie season and continue his development towards becoming an elite all-around defenseman.”

It’s easy to see why Nill went the Karlsson route for his Klingberg comparison. Both are Swedes, both are talented offensive producers, both have slight frames (Karlsson is 6-foot, 180 pounds; Klingberg is 6-foot-2, 180) and both are solid puck movers out of their own end.

It also seems like Nill isn’t worried about placing lofty expectations on his players.

In an appearance on the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast this week, he said Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin reminded him of “Toews and Kane when they were 22, 23, 24 years of age.”