Kyle Turris

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NHL on NBCSN: Barry Trotz, Washington Capitals visit Nashville Predators

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with a meeting between the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here.

Both the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals enter Tuesday night’s matchup in good form. The Capitals have won five of their last six games, while the Predators have taken four of their last five.

Kyle Turris impressed in his Predators debut Saturday night, scoring a goal and assisting on another during a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. While one Nashville center looks to continue being productive, another one looks to finally get going.

Ryan Johansen has eight points on the year, but zero goals. Carrying an $8 million cap hit, he’s the highest paid forward without a goal this season.

“As an individual, I’ve just got to find ways to create more,” Johansen told Adam Vingan of The Tennessean. “It’s a role that I’m counted on from the guys here to contribute offensively.”

Tonight’s game will be the fourth time Barry Trotz returns to Nashville after leaving the Predators in 2014. The franchise’s first head coach helped build the team into a playoff contender and now he’s trying to make the most out of a Capitals side that sees its championship window closing.

They’re middle of the pack in scoring (2.82 goals per game) and on special teams (18.6 percent PP, 78.6 percent PK) and surprisingly next-to-last in shots per game (28.5). These aren’t the regular season Capitals we’re used to, but when changes happen on your roster, this can be expected.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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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 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.

Sakic’s patience pays off for Avs in Duchene trade

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All of a sudden, things look a lot more positive for the Colorado Avalanche, not to mention how people view Joe Sakic as a GM.

Now, that’s not to say it was easy. The Avalanche took a lot of heat before finally pulling the trigger in trading Matt Duchene, but with the monster deal involving three teams, Colorado was able to land a pretty staggering package of picks, prospects, and Hamburglar.

Prospects: Samuel Girard, Vladislav Kamenev, and Shane Bowers.

Picks: First-rounder from Senators (see details below for how it is briefly lottery-protected), second-rounder in 2018 from Predators, third-rounder in 2019 from Ottawa.

Hamburglar: Andrew Hammond

Phew, that’s quite the haul for the Avalanche. Here’s the thing: I don’t think any single player in this deal will end up better than Duchene (or Kyle Turris). If that’s the only way you’ll judge a trade, then after all this time, Sakic may still lose.

On the other hand, it was clear that Duchene needed to go. With two years left at $6M per pop, it’s plausible that he would have left eventually, and for nothing but cap space. Even if the Avalanche re-signed Duchene in an alternate scenario, are they truly primed to contend during his peak years?

[Breaking down blockbuster Matt Duchene, Kyle Turris trade]

This deal seems close to optimal for the Avalanche as far as realistic “gets” are concerned; such a choice only seems wiser when you consider that Travis Hamonic is struggling and injured with Calgary, as just one example.

The cooler element is that, for the first time in a long time, it feels like things are trending up for the Avalanche.

Consider the players who are leading the charge for the refreshingly respectable 8-6-0 Avs. Nathan MacKinnon has been on a tear lately, reminding us that it’s a little weird to be disappointed in a guy who’s still just 22. Tyson Barrie ties MacKinnon with a team-leading 14 points, and he’s old by Avs standards at 27. Mikko Rantanen is already looking great at 21. Alex Kerfoot could be a keeper at 23. J.T. Compher (22) and Tyson Jost (19) are showing intrigue. It’s hard to believe that Gabriel Landeskog is only 25.

Heck, the Avalanche may just revive Nail Yakupov, who’s been given up on a lot for a player who is just 24.

Add intriguing first-rounder Calle Makar to that group and the Avalanche were already enjoying some reasons for optimism. This mixture of picks and prospects just gives them more ammunition.

Girard, 19, is the gem of this group. To my eyes, he was already showing some real promise with the Predators, and he’ll almost certainly get more of a chance to show what he can do (and, yes, maybe also get exposed a bit more) on an Avalanche team that sorely needs defense.

Kamenev, 21, is one of those prospects who could go either way. The good news, though, is that he’s been putting up solid AHL numbers. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman broke down the trio (subscription required) in greater detail, arguing that Kamenev and Shane Bowers, 18, may ultimately be depth or mid-range guys.

In case you’re wondering, Girard (47th in 2016) and Kamenev (42nd in 2014) were second-round picks while Bowers went 28th overall in this past draft.

TSN’s Scott Cullen did a nice job breaking down how those draft picks might work out for the Avalanche:

The haul of draft picks increases the overall value of the deal for Colorado. Ottawa’s first-round pick could be in the middle of the round, give or take a few spots, and that should generally yield an NHL-calibre player. Second and third-round picks bring about a one-in-three and one-in-four chance, respectively of yielding an NHL player. For a team like Colorado, coming off a historically terrible season, obtaining five young assets (plus Hammond) for Duchene is the smart long-term play.

Ultimately, this deal could go in a lot of ways for the Avalanche. It’s important to remember that a significant element of all of this could very well be player development.

Possible value for the Hamburglar?

It’s fair to say that, from Ottawa’s perspective, trading Andrew Hammond came down to a pure “salary dump.”

I wonder if Sakic might be able to do something interesting here, though. At the moment, Semyon Varlamov is on a two-year deal at $5.9M per season, while backup Jonathan Bernier has a one-year, $2.75M contract.

If you’re a team hurting for a backup goalie, call Colorado. Sakic could conceivably make something work in a variety of ways, whether it be moving Hammond or maybe retaining some salary in a trade involving Bernier.

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Yes, that’s a lot to digest for the Avalanche, but in the spirit of the Hamburglar, at least Sakic provided Avalanche fans with a rare trade that feels like a Happy Meal.

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 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.

‘It’s a learning experience’ — Duchene saga in Colorado ends with blockbuster trade

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Go ahead and circle Nov. 10 and 11 on your hockey calendars.

Matt Duchene, now a member of the Ottawa Senators, could face his old team the Colorado Avalanche for the first time just days after Sunday’s blockbuster, three-team trade that also involved the Nashville Predators.

The funny thing is this two-game set between the Senators and Avalanche won’t take place in Denver or Ottawa. Duchene would face his old team when the two clubs face each other in Sweden on Friday and Saturday.

This trade puts an end to Duchene’s career with the Avalanche. Selected third overall in 2009, Duchene played 585 games with Colorado, scoring 178 goals and 428 points. But the relationship had gone through a lengthy rough patch, resulting in months of trade talk involving the 26-year-old center.

“Probably the last … year has been tough,” Duchene told reporters, per BSN Denver, after leaving Sunday’s game between the Avalanche and Islanders. He played just under two minutes of ice time before exiting.

“But at the same time it’s a learning experience, it’s a growing experience. It’s part of the business. None of this is personal at the end of the day. It’s a business. I can’t say enough good things. Colorado has given me so much.”

With this deal, the Senators (acquiring Duchene) and Predators (acquiring Kyle Turris from Ottawa) made significant moves to bolster their lineups with the intent of making a prolonged playoff run next spring.

For the Avalanche, this was an opportunity to collect draft picks and prospects with hopes of building a more prosperous future.

The Avalanche acquired defenseman Samuel Girard, forward Vladislav Kamenev and a 2018 second-round pick from Nashville, and forward Shane Bowers, goaltender Andrew Hammond, a first-round pick in 2018 and a third-round pick in 2019 from Ottawa.

That would give the Avalanche two first-round picks and two second-round picks in 2018, and five selections in the opening three rounds next year.

“We feel this deal brings us some top prospects as well as some high draft picks as we continue to build for both the short and long-term future,” said Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic in a statement. “We’ve said all along that we wanted to be patient and wait for the right deal, and this is the opportunity we feel is best for the organization.”

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

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.