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Predators are one Johansen deal away from a salary cap work of art

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If you need to kill some time, play this game: which Nashville Predators contract is the biggest steal?

If Viktor Arvidsson is as much of a difference-maker as his limited NHL reps indicate, his $4.25 million cap hit over seven years is certainly in the running. Still, there are plenty of choices.

  • The defense alone is bargain-filled, making P.K. Subban‘s $9 million cap hit easy to stomach.

Ryan Ellis‘ $2.5 million cap hit doesn’t run out until after 2018-19. Mattias Ekholm‘s less of a “well-kept secret” following Nashville’s run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, yet his $3.75M steal runs through 2021-22. Roman Josi can be a bit polarizing but at $4M for three more seasons, it’s not controversial to say that he’s probably at least worth the money.

  • The offensive bargains begin with the top line.

Arvidsson has the makings of a legit first-line winger, and that deal is highly likely to be regrettable … for his agent and accountant.

Filip Forsberg‘s $6M isn’t as audacious as some of those defensive steals, but it’s still pretty nice. That total also makes it easier for the Predators to try to control costs for their one remaining big consideration: Ryan Johansen, who still needs a deal as an RFA.

  • Calle Jarnkrok is a pretty nifty get at $2M per season, especially if he grows with a contract that runs through 2021-22.
  • Scott Hartnell took quite the homecoming discount at $1M for 2017-18.
  • As you go deeper, the Predators enjoy some nice deals on players who are under ELC’s or second contracts: Kevin Fiala ($863K), Frederick Gaudreau ($667K), Pontus Aberg ($650K) and Colton Sissons ($625K) could all be helpful contributors at low costs.

This tweet really sells the point, in case this post hasn’t: GM David Poile hasn’t been slowing down much since being named GM of the Year. And he might just be the best executive in the NHL right now.

  • It’s all pretty immaculate; even if you’re not a fan of Pekka Rinne, his $7 million cap hit expires in two seasons. By then, the Predators could very well transition to Juuse Saros, possibly echoing the Penguins with Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray along the way.

Overall, it’s an enviable situation, as Nashville’s clean cap ranks with Pittsburgh and few others as the best-looking in the NHL. That’s especially true when you consider the fact that the Lightning are allocating $8.8 million to the shaky duo of former Rangers in Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi.

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Still, the Predators aren’t done for the summer, as Johansen stands as a tricky situation. They don’t have the helpful deadline of arbitration looming, so the two sides are just going to have to figure something out … eventually.

Even so, Cap Friendly pegs them at $13.43 million in cap space, so they have room to work with their first-line center.

While teams like the Penguins and Blackhawks stocked up on high draft picks, the Predators’ greatest moves have largely come through shrewd drafting, savvy trades, and forward-thinking contract extensions. One can debate which setup is the best, but Poile’s work places Nashville in the upper crust, and their built to stay there for years to come.

Related: Matt Murray, Jake Guentzel could help Penguins compete for years.

No surgery for Dumoulin, who broke hand during Penguins’ Cup run

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If you’re feeling jealous of Brian Dumoulin for signing a robust (if fair) contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins, take heart: at least he earned it. He even checked the “Hockey players are insanely tough” box during the Penguins’ latest Stanley Cup run.

MORE: Dumoulin signs for six years, with a $4.1 million cap hit.

The 25-year-old revealed that a David Savard slapper broke (or “damaged?) his right hand in Game 5 of that first-round matchup. After that, his hand would heal up, only “I’d do a cross-check then it would break again,” as he told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Dumoulin seemed to deal with that as the postseason went along, but the good news – at least as he claims – is that it’s all healed and he won’t require surgery.

“It was tough to play with it, but obviously everybody had injuries,” Dumoulin said, via Mackey. “It’s all healed up now. They were deciding on surgery or not at the end of the season, but doctors saw a little bit of healing. We gave it about three weeks, and I kind of have been testing it out the last week. I’ve skated, and there have been no problems. I’m happy about it.”

With any “no surgery needed” story, there are us hand-wringers who wonder if that will merely increase the odds of future re-breaks.

That, not to mention years of taxing schooling, is why doctors are doctors, though, so this seems like a mostly positive bit of information regarding another Penguins player who fought through injuries during the playoffs.

Considering how many Penguins players were sidelined, especially on defense, it makes Dumoulin’s toughness that much easier to appreciate. For all we know, losing him might have been the last straw for that thinned out group.

Instead, the Penguins are repeat champions, and Dumoulin enjoys long-term security.

If his play on the ice didn’t already convince you that he earned that extension, perhaps this detail did.

Agent: Torts ‘should be among the top-paid coaches’ in the NHL

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Last season started with John Tortorella as the early favorite to be the first coach fired.

By the end of June, however, he was the Jack Adams Award winner as the league’s coach of the year.

The Columbus Blue Jackets underwent quite a transformation, setting single-season franchise records in wins (50) and points (108), while goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was sensational and claimed the Vezina Trophy.

The success of last season could have an impact on the dollar figure Tortorella may be able to demand for his next contract, according to the Columbus Dispatch, which spoke with Torts’ agent Neil Glasberg.

Remember, not only was he favored to be fired early last season, he was previously let go by the Canucks after a disastrous single season in Vancouver. Charging down a hallway to the Calgary Flames dressing room to get at Bob Hartley during an intermission — and the subsequent suspension for his actions — was the low point for Tortorella with that franchise.

That was during the 2013-14 season.

Three years later . . .

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Tortorella’s situation bears watching. He’s entering the final year of his contract, a five-year, $10 million deal signed with Vancouver in 2013. Since the Blue Jackets hired him in October 2015, they’ve paid only $750,000 of his $2 million annual salary, with the Canucks picking up the rest. In other words, the Blue Jackets have been paying less for their coach than just about any other team in the NHL. Even the $2 million figure puts him only in the middle of the pack, but that’s about to change.

“Who just won coach of the year?” Glasberg said. “It’s not the first time he’s won the Jack Adams Trophy, either. He’s won a Stanley Cup. The Blue Jackets just had the best season in franchise history, and it’s not even close. Yeah, he should be among the top-paid coaches in the league.”

Mike Babcock of the Maple Leafs, hired by that franchise in May of 2015, signed an eight-year deal worth an estimated $50 million in Toronto. According to CapFriendly, he makes $6.25 million per season, listed as the highest paid coach in the league. Joel Quenneville is second, making $6 million.

Report: Duchene could start next season with Avs

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If you’ve been wondering why Matt Duchene is still a member of the Colorado Avalanche, here’s an update from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

Everyone decided to take a deep breath and go back to their corners when Matt Duchene wasn’t traded July 1. It sounds like everyone is realizing the possibility he could start next season in Colorado. But remember this: Avalanche assistant GM Chris MacFarland was with Scott Howson in Columbus when Howson waited until July 20, 2012, to trade Rick Nash. Sometimes the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, and MacFarland could be following that blueprint. I wouldn’t be surprised if interested parties (Boston, Columbus, Nashville, Pittsburgh, maybe Calgary) try again to see if anything shakes loose.

Friedman goes on to say that Duchene’s contract, which has two years left on it, could be a stumbling block.

We’ve written about that in the past. If Duchene only had one year left, an acquiring team could immediately sign him to an extension, like when the Avs traded Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo.

But with two years left, it’s more complicated because an extension can’t be signed until next summer. That means an acquiring team would have to trust that Duchene wanted to stay long-term. And even if he said he did, there’d still be a risk he could change his mind.

Another factor in all this is that the Avs absolutely have to nail this deal. Certainly, they need to do better than what they got for O’Reilly.

To illustrate, it’s been reported that the Columbus Blue Jackets offered defenseman Ryan Murray to Colorado as part of a package for Duchene.

With all due respect to Murray, the second overall draft pick in 2012, he is not the franchise defenseman the Jackets had hoped he’d be. If the Avs are going to trade Duchene, they’ll need to get a guy with a higher ceiling than Murray’s.

And that’s the toughest part for GM Joe Sakic. As we’ve said before, fixing a defense with trades is not easy to do. Sure, the Jackets were able to get a good, young defenseman in Seth Jones, but they had to give up Ryan Johansen to get him.

The key there? Johansen was under club control for more than two years.

Related: Cale Makar goes fourth overall to Avs

DeBrincat one to watch when ‘Hawks hold prospects camp

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The Chicago Blackhawks will hold their prospects camp next week — and when they do, expect all eyes to be on Alex DeBrincat, the 19-year-old forward who’s piled up points as an OHL star but whose NHL ceiling is a matter of debate.

DeBrincat, listed at just 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, is coming off another stellar season with the Erie Otters. In 63 games, he scored a whopping 65 goals with 62 assists. For comparison, the second-most goals in the league was 48, by Sudbury’s Dmitry Sokolov.

With those offensive totals, one wonders if DeBrincat might be able to replace Artemi Panarin on Patrick Kane‘s line. After all, Panarin’s not a big guy, either, and he had great chemistry with Kane and Artem Anisimov.

But until DeBrincat plays an NHL game, there will be questions about his size and strength. In December, he was surprisingly cut by the U.S. World Juniors squad that went on to beat Canada for gold.

“It’s going to be a big summer for him,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman told the Chicago Tribune in February. “If he can get his strength up to NHL-caliber, no question he has the ability. He has that innate sense of how to get into open areas and score goals. That’s probably an overlooked talent. You can’t really teach that. It’s an instinct and he has it.”

Click here for the entire ‘Hawks prospects roster. It also includes DeBrincat’s Erie teammate, defenseman Darren Raddysh, who signed with Rockford last month.