Nashville Predators

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

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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.

Report: Smith asking for $4.75 million ahead of arbitration date with Predators

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According to Adam Vingan of The Tennessean, the Nashville Predators and 25-year-old center Craig Smith have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday.

This, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, shows what separates the two sides heading into that hearing:

Smith, a restricted free agent, has emerged with back-to-back 20-plus goal seasons with the Predators, scoring 24 times with 52 points in 79 games in 2013-14.

His point production dipped this past season to 44 points, but he still finished tied for second on the team alongside James Neal with 23 goals, and behind only Filip Forsberg, who had 26.

“It’s just a process,” Predators GM David Poile recently told The Tennessean.

“It’s probably actually good it’s been done because we know they’re going to be signed. It’s just how much, and it gives both sides a chance to prepare as best possible for an arbitration or maybe for a settlement.”

Nashville hands Jarnkrok one-year, $735K extension

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After establishing himself with the Nashville Predators, 23-year-old forward Calle Jarnkrok has earned a one-year, $735,000 contract extension, per the team’s website.

The Detroit Red Wings selected him with the 51st overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and he went on to excel with Brynas IF Gavle in Sweden, scoring 13 goals and 42 points in 53 contests in his final campaign with the squad back in 2012-13.

After a brief stint with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins that season, he prepared for his first full AHL campaign in 2013-14. He had 13 goals and 36 points in 57 contests with Grand Rapids, but that marked the end of his tenure within the Red Wings’ organization as he was part of the package to acquire David Legwand from Nashville.

Jarnkrok went on to record two goals and nine points in 12 contests with Nashville in 2013-14. He spent the full campaign with the Predators last season, but was limited to 12:50 minutes of ice time per game and finished with seven goals and 18 points in 74 contests.

Capitals still might add a third-line center

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With Eric Fehr an unrestricted free agent and Nicklas Backstrom’s availability for the start of the season “up in the air” after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery, the Washington Capitals’ situation at center is far from certain.

Washington has stated that Evgeny Kuznetsov will serve as the number two center and when Backstrom is healthy, he is the clear number one, but that still leaves the third line role undetermined.

“I think we’re going to let it play out,” Capitals GM Brian MacLellan told the Washington Post. “We could address it internally, the third-line center spot, and also depending on how the contract situation plays itself out, there’s a couple options in the free agency market that we see, and we’ll explore the trade market up until training camp. There might be something in that venue.”

Andre Burakovsky, 20, is among their internal options, but they also have veteran alternatives like 29-year-old Jay Beagle.

If they do decide to sign a center to help fill the void, then their options include Stephen Weiss, Matt Cullen, Derek Roy and, of course, Fehr.

Washington does have some cap considerations though. They have a little more than $10 million in space, but still have to re-sign restricted free agents Marcus Johansson and Braden Holtby, per General Fanager.

Mike Ribeiro settles sexual assault civil lawsuit

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Mike Ribeiro and his wife settled their sexual assault civil lawsuit with their former nanny for an undisclosed amount on Wednesday, as the Nashville Post’s J.R. Lind reports.

The terms of the settlement (which was made out-of-court) were undisclosed, but Ribeiro’s attorney Brian Lauten released the following statement to the Nashville Post:

“This civil matter has been amicably resolved without incurring further time-consuming and potentially costly litigation,” Lauten said. “I am unable to discuss any of the elements of this confidential resolution. Mike looks forward to continuing to play hockey at a high level and looks forward to aggressively pursuing a Stanley Cup alongside his teammates. The Ribeiro family will not have any further comments on this matter.”

The Predators also are aware of the settlement, as the Nashville Post notes:

“The organization understands Mike Ribeiro has resolved his civil case. We are pleased that Mike and his family can focus on their future and we will have no further comment.”

The Predators organization decided to re-sign Ribeiro, 35, to a two-year, $7 million contract even as this lawsuit remained in civil court. When negotiations were taking place, GM David Poile described Ribeiro as “a good teammate and a productive player” along with someone who, alongside his wife, has been “excellent in the community.”

Re-signing Ribeiro rubs some fans (both of the Predators and hockey as a whole) the wrong way. Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski provided this advice to those who were angered by Nashville’s decision to bring Ribeiro back in June:

This story has gotten national attention, and there’s been national media pressure on Poile. That’s fine. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter unless Predators fans decide it matters.

All politics are local. If you’re a woman that loves the Preds but this re-signing turns your stomach, don’t be silent. If you’re a guy that loves the Preds but can’t support someone like Ribeiro, let your voice be heard. Because right now, the Predators clearly believe that the past doesn’t factor in the present, that Ribeiro is just another rehabbed player and that you think a No. 1 center trumps a player facing this type of civil case.

However you might feel about the situation, the bottom line is that the case is now settled – legally speaking – and Ribeiro is under contract with the Predators for the next two seasons.