Eric Nystrom

AP

Preds continue to overhaul, buy out Jackman

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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.

Two buyouts coming: Mason Raymond and Eric Nystrom

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Calgary forward Mason Raymond and Nashville forward Eric Nystrom have been placed on waivers for the purposes of being bought out.

Raymond, 30, had one year left on his three-year contract, with a cap hit of $3.15 million. He had just four goals in 29 games last season. He played 15 games for AHL Stockton, scoring six times with nine assists.

Nystrom, 33, also had one year left on his contract. His cap hit was $2.5 million on a four-year deal. The Preds tried to trade him, but not surprisingly had no luck after he scored just seven goals, with no assists, in 47 NHL games last season.

Buyout window opens Wednesday, here are some candidates

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Now that the Stanley Cup has been awarded, it’s time to move on to an equally enjoyable topic — players that will be paid to go away this summer!

The NHL’s buyout window opens on Wednesday, 48 hours after the final game of the season. A quick refresher on the math (per General Fanager):

Buyouts are paid over twice the number of years remaining on the player’s contract.

The rate is one-third of the total salary remaining for players under the age of 26, and two-thirds for those 26 and older.

There are a bunch of other smaller rules and regulations so, if you’d like to read about those, head over to the General Fanager page. It’s a good site.

Now, for the potential buyout candidates?

— Rumblings have Minnesota considering a Thomas Vanek buyout. Vanek, 32, is heading into the last of a three-year, $19.5 million deal with a $6.5M cap hit, and is owed $7.5 million in salary. He’s coming off a disappointing year in which he scored a career-low 18 goals.

— Nashville GM David Poile said buying out veteran forward Eric Nystrom could happen, if he’s unable to trade Nystrom prior to the window. Nystrom, 33, carries a $2.5 million cap hit but is set to pull in $3M in salary next season.

R.J. Umberger said he expects the Flyers to buy him out. Umberger, 33, is heading into the last year of a contract that pays $4.6 million annually.

Toronto is expected to do the same with d-man Jared Cowen, who was acquired in the Dion Phaneuf trade but never played for the Leafs.

Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins, both facing uncertain futures in Vancouver, are also candidates to be bought out.

Chicago could finally decide to part ways with Bryan Bickell, whose four-year, $16 million contract has been an albatross the last couple of seasons.

— Former Oilers captain Andrew Ference, who only played in six games last year before getting shut down, could be in line for a buyout. This one may be more complicated, though, depending on Ference’s health. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in January, and it’s unclear if he’s fully recovered.

Preds trying to trade Nystrom, rather than buy him out

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The window for NHL clubs to buy out players could open soon, which is why a number of teams are currently in the thick of making tough decisions.

Like Nashville with Eric Nystrom, for example — the Preds have already indicated they’re going to part ways with the veteran forward.

So now it’s a matter of how they’ll do it.

“It has to happen pretty soon,” Preds GM David Poile said, per the Tennessean. “The buyout period starts 48 hours after the Stanley Cup playoffs, and I want to be in position to know whether we can trade him or whether we’d keep him or whether we’d buy him out.

“We’re about a week away from needing to make one of those three decisions.”

Nystrom, 33, carries a $2.5 million cap hit but is set to pull in $3M in salary next season. The Tennessean reports Poile is actively trying to flip Nystrom rather than go the buyout route.

But it could be tough to find a taker.

Nystrom was a press box regular during the playoffs — sitting up there for 13 of Nashville’s 14 games — though he did manage to score seven goals in just 46 regular-season appearances.

If there’s no taker for his services, the Preds have a decision. Do they buy Nystrom out, and absorb the cap hit penalty? Or do they keep him on board for another year, and let his contract expire next July?

If Poile goes the latter route, the possibility of waiving Nystrom would seem to be in play. That would give Nashville the option to send him to the AHL (should he clear), and recoup some cap space.

Preds are ‘definitely heading in the right direction’: Poile

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) General manager David Poile believes patience might be the remaining ingredient needed for the Nashville Predators to take that “next step.”

The Predators are coming off the longest playoff run in their history and Poile noted Wednesday that they have gone through a myriad of changes the past couple of seasons. They won three of four elimination games before finally losing to San Jose in Game 7 in the second round, and Poile said what Nashville needs more than anything is just a little time.

Nashville’s roster featured five rookies, and Poile made it clear he expects improvement from them along with center Ryan Johansen and a breakthrough from Colin Wilson playing during the regular season like he did during the postseason. Mix with some consistency, Poile likes what he has.

“We are definitely heading in the right direction,” Poile said.

Poile and coach Peter Laviolette summed up the season that ended May 12 with that 5-0 loss to San Jose. Poile noted the Predators were one of only two NHL teams with six players posting at least 50 points along with Florida, and their defense tied with Calgary for most points scored during the regular season thanks to Roman Josi and captain Shea Weber.

Nashville also filled its arena to 99.2 percent of capacity during the regular season and set a single-season franchise attendance record with 35 sellouts. Laviolette thanked fans for bringing an energy to the arena that he hasn’t seen in other buildings. Poile said he’s not calling Nashville a non-traditional hockey market again after what he called a “tremendous ride.”

“This is a hockey city,” Poile said.

To build on this season, the Predators face a busy offseason.

Filip Forsberg, who tied the franchise record with 33 goals, is at the top of the to-do list as a pending restricted free agent. But Forsberg said last weekend he wants to stay in Nashville. Poile said he has no deadline for a new deal and isn’t sure yet if that deal will be for a couple seasons or a longer contract up to six years.

“The goal is to get him signed,” Poile said. “The intention is there on both sides. Filip is very happy here, his agent’s happy he’s here, and we’ve just got to get to work on it.”

A new deal for forward Calle Jarnkrok, another restricted free agent, is another priority after his scoring jumped to 30 points. The Predators also have been talking with the agent for backup goalie Carter Hutton, who went 7-5-4 with a .918 save percentage. Poile said it was too early to know if Juuse Saros or Marek Mazanec currently in the AHL would be options if they don’t sign Hutton to a new deal.

Neither veteran forward Paul Gaustad nor forward Eric Nystrom, due $3 million next season, will be back.

Both Poile and Laviolette want much more from veteran Mike Ribeiro, who was scratched in Games 3 and 4 against San Jose. Laviolette noted Ribeiro, who finished with 50 points in the regular season, played a key role in helping Nashville go from a bubble team into a playoff berth. But the Predators want Ribeiro, who will turn 37 in February and is due $3.5 million next season, to improve his conditioning to be stronger in the postseason.

“Mike really needs to have the summer of his life to regain his position back on the top two lines,” Poile said.