Calle Jarnkrok

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Predators are being bold with term; are they being smart?

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If nothing else, the Nashville Predators aren’t afraid to be bold.

In a vacuum, the Colton Sissons signing isn’t something that will make or break the Predators’ future. That seven-year, $20 million contract has inspired some fascinating debates, but the most interesting questions arise around GM David Poile’s larger team building, and his courageous decisions.

As we’ve seen, Poile doesn’t just lock up obvious core players to term, he frequently gives supporting cast players unusual security, too.

This signing seems like a good excuse to dive into the Predators’ biggest offseason decisions, and also ponder maybe the biggest one of all: what to do with captain Roman Josi, whose bargain contract will only last for one more season.

The interlocking P.K. Subban, Matt Duchene, Roman Josi situation

By any reasonable estimate, the Predators got hosed in getting such a small return for Subban in that deal with the Devils.

Of course, the Predators’ goal wasn’t necessarily to get a great return for Subban, but instead to get rid of Subban’s $9M to (most directly) sign Matt Duchene, and maybe eventually provide more leeway to extend Josi.

There was some argument to trading away Subban, as at 30, there’s a risk that his $9M AAV could become scary.

The thing is, the Predators only seemed to expose themselves to greater risks. It remains to be seen if Matt Duchene will be worth $8M, even right away, and he’s already 28. Roman Josi turned 29 in June, so if Josi’s cap hit is comparable to Subban’s — and it could be a lot higher if Josi plays the market right — then the Predators would take even bigger risks on Josi. After all, Josi’s next contract will begin in 2020-21, while Subban’s is set to expire after 2021-22.

So, in moving on from Subban to Duchene and/or Josi, the Predators are continuing to make big gambles that they’re right. Even if Subban really was on the decline, at least his deal isn’t going on for that much longer. Nashville’s instead chosen one or maybe two even riskier contracts at comparable prices, really rolling the dice that they’re not painting themselves into a corner.

There’s also the scenario where Josi leaves Nashville, and things could get pretty dizzying from there.

Even if you look at it as a Matt Duchene for P.K. Subban trade alone, that’s not necessarily a guaranteed “win” for Nashville. It’s all pretty bold, though.

[This post goes into even greater detail about trading Subban, and the aftermath.]

Lots of term

Nashville doesn’t have much term locked in its goalies Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, which is wise, as goalies are very tough to predict. Those risks are instead spread out to a considerable number of skaters, and Poile’s crossing his fingers that he’s going to find the sweet spot with veterans, rather than going all that heavy on youth.

The long-term plan has frequently been fruitful for the Predators, as Viktor Arvidsson ($4.25M for five more seasons) and Filip Forsberg ($6M for three more seasons) rank as some of the best bargains in the NHL. Josi’s $4M is right up there, though that fun ride ends after 2019-20.

Your mileage varies when you praise the overall work, though, because some savings are offset by clunkers. It stings to spend $10.1M in combined cap space on Kyle Turris and Nick Bonino, especially since $16M for Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen ranks somewhere between “the price of doing business” and “bad.”

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

So that’s the thing with locking down supporting cast members. It’s nice to have a defensive forward who seemingly moves the needle like Colton Sissons seems to do …

… Yet is he a bit of an extravagance at $2.857M per year? Again, that’s a matter of debate.

The uncomfortable truth is that, if the Predators are wrong about enough of these deals, then it’s that much tougher to wiggle your way out of mistakes. Yes, maybe the Predators can move Sissons if he slides, but you risk falling behind the pack if you lose value propositions too often.

Will that be the case with the Predators? We’ll have to wait and see, and the most fascinating test cases come down the line. If it doesn’t work out next year, in particular, then things could pretty uncomfortable, pretty quickly.

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.

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.

Detroit parting ways with deadline pickup Cole

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The Erik Cole era in Detroit will be short lived.

Cole, who arrived from Dallas at the deadline but played just 11 games before suffering a season-ending spinal cord injury, won’t be brought back next season, GM Ken Holland announced on Tuesday.

Cole, 36, had a pretty nice campaign prior to suffering his injury. The veteran scored six points in 11 games with the Wings, averaging 14:39 TOI per night. Overall, Cole averaged an impressive 0.57 points per game this year between Detroit and Dallas, his highest rate since scoring a career-best 35 goals with Montreal in 2011-12.

As such, it’ll be interesting to see where he lands in free agency. Clubs looking for a veteran presence on the wing could do worse and Cole does have plenty of playoff experience, having appeared in 46 career contests while playing in a pair of Stanley Cup Finals (winning it all with Carolina in 2006).

As for Detroit, this marks the second straight year a veteran deadline pickup failed to net significant returns — last year, the club acquired David Legwand from Nashville and, after a quick start, he struggled to make an impact in an opening-round playoff loss to Boston.

Those deals could end up hurting the Red Wings down the road. For Cole, they gave up prospects Mattias Backman, center Mattias Janmark and a second-round pick in this year’s draft; for Legwand, they gave up Calle Jarnkrok and a second-rounder in last year’s draft.

Preds’ Neal day-to-day after missing Saturday’s game

The Nashville Predators have been cold lately, but they picked up a big win against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. James Neal wasn’t on the ice for Nashville though as he’s dealing with an upper-body injury that’s believed to be the result of cumulative strain rather than a recent event, per The Tennessean.

Neal, who also missed Saturday’s morning skate, is regarded as day-to-day. The one-time 40-goal scorer has 22 markers and 35 points in 63 games in 2014-15.

With Neal sidelined, Calle Jarnkrok came out of the press box after being scratched in two straight contests. Mike Santorelli assumed Neal’s place on a line with Colin Wilson and Mike Ribeiro.

Nashville acquired Neal from Pittsburgh in June in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. While Neal hasn’t been as prolific offensively as he was in Pittsburgh, the Predators have excelled this season with a 43-20-7 record. They’re tied with Anaheim for first place in the Western Conference ahead of Sunday’s game against the Ducks.

Fisher ‘definitely’ wants to re-sign in Nashville

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Last week, an ESPN report claimed the Predators started contract negotiations with veteran centers Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher.

This week, Fisher expressed his desire to stick in Nashville.

“I love the city and I love the guys here in the organization,” he explained, per The Tennessean. “It’s been great. Hopefully the business part of things will take care of itself, but I definitely want to be part of it for sure.”

One would think Nashville feels the same way. Fisher, 34, is in the last of a two-year, $8.4 million deal with a $4.2 million cap hit. Though he’s only played 33 games this year due to a ruptured Achilles, Fisher has been great — he’s scored 13 goals and 25 points while averaging 18:23 TOI per night.

(What’s more, Fisher is averaging .76 points per game, the highest total of his 16-year career.)

In terms of their financial future, the Preds should be able to make Fisher a reasonable offer. A hometown discount is definitely on the table — in addition to spending the last five years in Nashville, Fisher’s wife, musician Carrie Underwood, is hugely popular in the city — though it’s worth pointing out the team does have a ton of free agents to deal with this summer.

In addition to Ribeiro and Fisher, the likes of Matt Cullen, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Calle Jarnkrok, Olli Jokinen, Gabriel Bourque, Anton Volchenkov and Taylor Beck are all due for new contracts, though it’s safe to assume veterans like Volchenkov, Cullen and Jokinen could be allowed to walk.

The big question with Fisher, it seems, is if he’ll be able to score enough money from Nashville as he would on the open market, where the center position projects to be thin.