It’s Nashville Predators day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Nashville Predators.

The Nashville Predators snapped a two-year playoff drought last season finishing second in the Central Division with a 47-25-10 record. However, the Preds met the eventual Stanley Cup champions in the first round falling in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Filip Forsberg had an excellent rookie campaign scoring a team-high 26 goals and 63 points in 82 games. He added four goals and two assists in the six postseason games. The 21-year-old finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting.

Captain Shea Weber led all Nashville blue liners with 15 goals and 45 points in 78 games. He finished fourth in voting for the Norris Trophy. Weber’s postseason was cut short following a knee injury in Game 2.

Pekka Rinne carried the load in goal for Nashivlle making 64 appearances and finishing with a 41-17-6 record while posting a 2.18 G.A.A. and a .923 save percentage and four shutouts. The 32-year-old was the runner up to Carey Price in Vezina Trophy voting.

“I really believe our players are going to be hungry to do even more,” said GM David Poile in July. “We came so close against Chicago. We wanted to make a couple of changes, get a little bit more depth, but we wanted to keep the core of the team together and that’s what we’ve done.”

Off-season recap

In addition to re-signing the club’s top two centers in Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher, Poile signed free agent Cody Hodgson to a one-year $1.05 million deal. The 25-year-old was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres following the second year of his six-year $25.5 million contract.

“He’s shown some great flashes of offensive success at center,” said Poile. “Last year was not his best year. I think he would fit in behind Ribeiro and Fisher.”

Hodgson had just six goals and seven assists in 78 games last season.

“He’s not going to be very proud of the season he had last year, but with all due respect, I think it’s a little circumstantial to who he was playing with and for and how they were playing and what their record was et cetera et cetera,” Poile said.

Poile also added experience on the blue line signing veteran Barret Jackman to a two-year $4 million deal.

“Barret gives us great balance back on the blue line with three lefties and three righties,” said Poile. “I think this is a perfect fit for our defense. He brings a veteran leadership, a physicality and his biggest asset to us is that he kills penalties.”

Nashville added depth for its American Hockey League club acquiring center Max Reinhart in a trade with the Calgary Flames.

Pens sign veteran center Cullen: one year, $800,000

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In an interesting move, Pittsburgh added even more depth up front on Thursday by signing veteran center Matt Cullen.

Cullen, who turns 39 in November, inked a one-year deal worth $800,000, re-uniting him with Pens GM Jim Rutherford — Cullen’s GM in Carolina in 2006, when the ‘Canes won the Stanley Cup.

“He has good leadership qualities,” Rutherford said of Cullen, per the Pens’ Twitter account. “He will play an important role on our 4th line.

“I know personally how good he is with other players. He has always been a guy that takes time to help his teammates.”

The 11th-oldest skater in the league last season, Cullen just wrapped a two-year, $7 million deal with the Preds, scoring seven goals and 25 points in 62 games. While he struggled early, Cullen eventually found his niche as Peter Laviolette’s “versatility guy,” flipping between the middle and wing, jumping up into the No. 2 center spot when Mike Fisher was injured during the playoffs.

Cullen is just the latest addition to Pittsburgh’s revamped forward group. The biggest splash came with the acquisition of Phil Kessel from Toronto, but Rutherford made other savvy moves as well — Nick Bonino and Eric Fehr were acquired in late July, while Sergei Plotnokov and Dominik Simon were signed out of the KHL and Czech League, respectively.

Cullen also provides the Pens with even more depth down the middle, as the club now has him, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Bonino and Fehr at the center position. Rutherford did say, however, that Fehr may be shifted to the wing.

Cullen ‘excited’ about playing another year, says teams have expressed interest

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Sounds like one of the NHL’s oldest players will return for another kick at the can.

Matt Cullen — the league’s 11th-oldest skater last season — is “excited about the idea of playing again,” and has been contacted by a few teams to come back for an 18th season, per The Tennessean.

“The last little bit, it’s kind of picked up a little bit, and there’s a few teams now that have expressed some interest,” Cullen said. “We’re just going through where I would fit salary cap wise and things like that.

“It’s been good. I’ve been thrilled with the fact that there’s been a few teams looking to hopefully make a move here.”

Cullen, who turns 39 in November, just wrapped a two-year, $7 million deal with the Preds. His ’13-14 campaign was fairly productive — 10 goals and 39 points in 77 games — and while he struggled early last season, Cullen eventually found his niche as a “versatility guy,” flipping between the middle and wing, jumping up into the No. 2 center spot when Mike Fisher was injured during the playoffs.

In May, with free agency looming, Cullen said his goal was to play close to home — he’s a Minnesota native — but now says he and agent Pat Morris are fielding offers from Western and Eastern Conference teams.

Morris, in fact, is a driving force behind Cullen returning for another year.

“I know that he should [keep playing],” the veteran agent said, per The Tennessean. “He can still skate and still make plays, and he’s still a very good teammate.”

Kassian traded to Habs for Prust; Hodgson signs with Preds

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The Vancouver Canucks have given up on Zack Kassian. The Montreal Canadiens will give him a chance.

Kassian was traded to the Habs today, along with a fifth-round pick in 2016. The 24-year-old winger, who came to Vancouver in the 2012 Cody Hodgson swap, never turned into the power forward the Canucks envisioned he could be. His stint with the club was a controversial one, marked by suspensions, punitive AHL demotions, and the odd hot streak. Some felt he was never given enough of an opportunity; others disagreed.

“I need to find consistency,” Kassian told TSN. “This summer, I’m really taking strides forward. I want to have a big year. I’ve matured a lot as a person and a player.”

Heading to the Canucks is gritty forward Brandon Prust. Prust is 31 years old. He’s signed for one more year at $2.5 million, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent.

In an odd twist, Hodgson has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Predators, who will hope to rejuvenate a career that went south in Buffalo. The 25-year-old center was just bought out by the Sabres. In Nashville, the top two centers, Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher, are each 35 years old, so rolling the dice on Hodgson makes sense.

Related: Ribeiro re-signs with Preds — two years, $7 million

Ribeiro re-signs with Preds — two years, $7 million

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From TSN’s Aaron Ward:

After being bought out by Arizona, Ribeiro bounced back with a productive “last chance” season for the Preds. The 35-year-old had 15 goals and 47 assists while playing mostly on a top line with Filip Forsberg and James Neal.

The Preds wanted Ribeiro back, despite the civil lawsuit filed by his former nanny, who claims that he sexually assaulted her in 2012.

“Last year before we signed Mike, we talked to he and his family a lot about his past and I guess you could say his plan and his commitment for moving forward for both on and off the ice,” GM David Poile said. “As it turned out, I think Mike was a good teammate and he was a productive player. I don’t think anybody would argue with that. I think he was great among his teammates, and his wife and he were excellent in the community.”

Hockey wise, the Preds may be in tough to win a Stanley Cup with a pair of 35-year-olds, Ribeiro and Mike Fisher, as their top centers. But Ribeiro and Fisher are only signed through 2016-17, so there’s flexibility to improve at the position.