Mike Halford

Pekka Rinne, Barret Jackman, Matt Duchene

Preds continue to overhaul, buy out Jackman


David Poile continued his aggressive remodel in Nashville on Thursday by buying out the remainder of Barret Jackman’s contract.

Jackman, 35, signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Preds last summer and proved to be a useful depth defenseman for the club, appearing in 73 regular season games and all 14 playoff contests. As such, today’s move caught some by surprise.

But in the wake of yesterday’s Shea Weber-for-P.K. Subban blockbuster, it’s clear Poile is shaking things up.

With Subban’s $9M cap hit now on the books, Nashville has a pretty healthy payroll — $63 million, per General Fanager — and still has some business to take care of. RFA forward Calle Jarnkrok needs a new deal, and Poile said he’s already begun negotiations on a new deal for No. 1 center Ryan Johansen, who’s in the last of a three-year, $12 million contract.

It also stands to reason that, given what he’s done already, Poile could be aggressive in free agency.

Jackman’s buyout will give the Preds roughly $1.3 million in cap relief. And it’s important to remember this is Poile’s second such move of the buyout period, having previously parted ways with Eric Nystrom.

After Stamkos re-signs, Bolts buy out Carle

Tampa Bay Lightning v Philadelphia Flyers
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Tampa Bay signed one of the biggest contracts in franchise history on Wednesday, retaining captain Steve Stamkos with an eight-year, $68 million extension.

Now, for the aftermath.

Facing serious cap concerns, the Bolts have elected to buy out the remainder of Matt Carle‘s contract, per Sportsnet.

Carle, 31, was Tampa Bay’s highest-paid defenseman this season, despite only playing in 64 games (and just 14 playoff contests). Signed back in 2012 to a big six-year, $33 million deal — in hindsight, one of GM Steve Yzerman’s poorest contracts — Carle had a good first two years with the Lightning, but fell down the depth chart over the last two and was a liability defensively.

In the postseason, he was essentially replaced by rookie blueliner Slater Koekkoek.

Here’s what Tampa’s financial relief will look like with the Carle buyout, per General Fanager:

Carle looked to be a cap casualty for quite some time. Yzerman’s job is nowhere near done, despite locking up a key piece in Stamkos — RFAs Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov all need new contracts, and star defenseman Victor Hedman will be a UFA after next season.

Yzerman also needs to figure out what to do with goalie Ben Bishop, who’s been at the center of trade rumors for months. Bishop is also a UFA after next season, and set to make $5.95M this year.

‘Hawks re-sign Rozsival, Mashinter

CALGARY, AB - MARCH 26: Michal Rozsival #32 of the Chicago Blackhawks in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 26, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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Chicago re-upped with a pair of pending free agents ahead of tomorrow’s frenzy — veteran blueliner Michal Rozsival and big forward Brandon Mashinter have agreed to one-year extension, the club announced.

Per ESPN, Rozsival’s deal is worth $600,000 and Mashinter’s is $575,000.


Mashinter, 27, recently completed his first season with the Blackhawks, scoring four goals and adding one assist in 41 games. He netted his first career NHL goal on Dec. 13, 2015, vs. VAN and made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut with the Blackhawks in 2016, appearing in two games.

Rozsival, 37, recently completed his 15th NHL season and his fourth with the Blackhawks. Last season, Rozsival scored one goal and added 12 assists in 51 games played. During his four-year tenure with Chicago, he has totaled 46 points (3G, 43A). A member of the 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup Championship teams, the defenseman has played in 54 Stanley Cup Playoffs games with Chicago, scoring one goal and notching 10 assists.

The more notable of the two is Rozsival who, at the time of writing, projects to be battling for a bottom pairing spot on Chicago’s blueline next season. He’ll likely be up against the likes of Erik Gustafsson and Viktor Svedberg, both of whom are notably younger. Gustafsson is 24, Svedberg is 25… and Rozsival will turn 38 in September.

This is the reality for Chicago in the salary cap world, however. It’s feasible that Mashinter — all 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds of him — could be in line for an even bigger role next season, now that Andrew Shaw is gone.

Cullen ‘fully committed to trying to get back to Pittsburgh’

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 14: Matt Cullen #7 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on November 14, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils shut out the Penguins 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Two days ago, we passed along a report claiming Matt Cullen would return for a 20th NHL campaign.

Yesterday, Cullen made it official — and made it very clear he wants to return to the Cup champion Penguins.

“Pittsburgh is where I want to go,” Cullen said, per the Pioneer Press. “It was a pretty special place for me, and it was a great fit for me and my family. I would really like for it to work out there.”

There’s little doubt Pittsburgh wants Cullen back, too.

The 39-year-old played this season on a one-year, $800,000 deal, which ranks among GM Jim Rutherford’s best moves of the campaign. He appeared in all 82 games, scoring 16 goals and 32 points, and finished second to Sidney Crosby in faceoffs won.

In the playoffs, Cullen had four goals and six points in 24 games and was a major thorn in Washington’s side during Round 2. After Game 4, Caps head coach Barry Trotz acknowledged Cullen was “having a hell of a series against us.”

Cullen was also hailed as a terrific dressing room presence and veteran leader.

“I do want him to return,” Rutherford told Sportsnet during the playoffs. “But we’ll deal with that at the appropriate time.”

The appropriate time has come, and won’t be easy.

The Penguins are pressed up pretty tight against the cap ceiling, which could make negotiations difficult. It’s fair to think Cullen could be looking for a pay bump, given how productive he was, and it’s very feasible other teams could make him an offer more lucrative than Pittsburgh.

He acknowledged as much to the Pioneer Press, but still insisted the Penguins are his No. 1.

“If the right opportunity comes, I’d probably take it,” said Cullen. “But right now I’m fully committed to trying to get back to Pittsburgh. It was a great fit for me as a player and with the family.”

In talking about Weber, Bergevin said plenty about Subban


“P.K. is a leader in his own way, but I want to talk to about the player coming here. I want to talk about Shea Weber.”

That was Montreal GM Marc Bergevin in the wake of Wednesday’s blockbuster trade — one that sent Subban to Nashville in exchange for Weber, sending shock waves throughout the hockey world.

Yet no matter how hard he tried, Bergevin was always going to be talking about Subban.

Today’s deal ended what was, and pardon the hyperbole, a fascinating tenure in Montreal. Subban is a polarizing player, uniquely talented and perhaps the league’s most marketable player. He’s gifted enough to join legends like Doug Harvey, Larry Robinson and Chris Chelios as Canadiens that have won the Norris Trophy, yet maddening enough to draw constant critiques from his head coach.

Subban was revered for his philanthropy and charitable work in Montreal, and was constantly visible in the community. Yet there were incessant rumblings of friction with teammates, and a rumored lack of harmony in the dressing room.

So, enter Weber, and the phrases Bergevin used to describe him.

“Tremendous leader” and “proven player.”

“A complete and reliable defenseman.”

He wasn’t done there.

“We always listen to offers from other teams if it’s going to improve our club,” Bergevin continued. “Today we were presented with an unique opportunity to improve our team, and I truly believe we took a step in the right direction.”

Those questioning Montreal for making this deal will counter with a few points. First, there are the age and contract factors. Subban just turned 27 in May, while Weber is 31 in August.

Subban has six years left on his deal, Weber 10.

From a statistical perspective, it’s fair to suggest Weber — with nearly 800 games played on his resume — could be slowing down just a bit. His regular season TOI in Nashville last year was his lowest in five years, and many people’s lasting memory of him in a Preds uniform was the ghastly Game 7 effort against San Jose in Round 2.

“It was tough,” Weber said following the 5-0 loss, in which he finished minus-3 and was on the ice for every San Jose goal. “It was a tough night.”

But if there were concerns about Weber, Bergevin wasn’t indulging them at Wednesday’s presser.

In fact, he talked up how the former Preds captain would boost Montreal’s sagging power play, and continually expressed what a big, prototypical, traditional workhorse Weber is on the blueline.

“You can’t ask for more — he’s a helluva defenseman,” Bergevin explained. “His track record shows for itself. Last year in the playoffs he averaged over 27 minutes a night, so he’s a very useful defenseman.

“He’s a stud.”

This assessment, you could argue, is maybe what Montreal didn’t see in Subban.

There’s very little that’s traditional about his game. He’s a risk-taker, and the term “swashbuclking” has been used to describe his style on more than one occasion. Back in February, Habs head coach Michel Therrien ripped Subban for a “selfish play that cost us the game” — a one-handed move against the Avs that backfired, and ended up in Montreal’s net.

In the aftermath, Therrien stood by his critique, only adding the requisites —  he had no problem with an “enthusiastic” guy like Subban, who was always in “a playful mood.” Subban then responded how Subban always does, by insisting he wasn’t going to change the way he played.

And that, right there, could be why today’s trade was made. The Habs were never going to make P.K. be like Weber, and P.K. was never going to make P.K. be like Weber.

But Bergevin could make the trade, and take the risk that came along with it.

“Today we completed an important transaction that I’m convinced will make the Canadiens a better team,” he said. “[But] it is also one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make as a general manager.”