Predators re-sign Craig Smith, bids submitted for NHL expansion teams, an updated salary-arbitration list and much more.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators avoided salary arbitration with forward Craig Smith, signing him to a five-year, $21.25 million contract. “Smith will receive a $250,000 raise during each season of his new contract, starting with $3.75 million next season and ending with $4.75 million in 2019-20. The annual average value is $4.25 million.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s pretty much the going rate for consecutive 20-plus goal scorers. Smith’s numbers last season (23 goals, 44 points) were down slightly from his career-best (so far) 24-goal, 52-point performance of 2013-14. Should he remains a 20-25 goal, 40-50 point player over the course of this contract, it will be money well spent. Now entering his playing prime, he should remain a key part of the Predators second line.
NHL.COM: The NHL salary arbitration schedule has been whittled down to 12 players, headlined by Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (July 23), New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (July 27), Ottawa Senators forward Mike Hoffman and Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier. The Predators also have forward Colin Wilson slated for an arbitration hearing on July 28.
MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings’ star Pavel Datsyuk could be sidelined by ankle surgery longer than expected. It was originally believed Datsyuk would be ready in time for the start of next season in October, but he recently said he could be sidelined four-to-five months.
NBC SPORTS: The NHL received two bids for expansion franchise on Monday. One of the bidder is Quebecor in Quebec City, the other businessman Bill Foley’s Black Knight Sports and Entertainment in Las Vegas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No bid was received from groups in Seattle, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in line for a franchise down the road. The main issue right now is getting an arena built. Once construction is underway, I daresay we’ll see serious bids coming from Seattle-based groups.
Speculation that bids could come from Portland or the Greater Toronto Area came to naught. I’ve always been skeptical of media speculation (which dates back to the late-1990s) suggesting billionaire Paul Allen could bring an NHL franchise to Portland, as he’s never expressed any real interest in doing so. As for the GTA, while it can undoubtedly support a second NHL franchise, there’s no suitable venue there. The only one is the Air Canada Center, and we all known who plays there. Unless another NHL-ready arena is built in the GTA, the Maple Leafs will remain the only NHL team in Toronto.
ESPN.COM: Former Boston Bruins coach, general manager and president Harry Sinden could have more input regarding management decisions by the team.
NHL.COM: Unrestricted free agent forward Rich Peverley remains undecided over his future plans. His last NHL game was on March 10, 2014, when he collapsed on the bench during the game. He subsequently required a cardiac ablation to correct problems with an irregular heartbeat.
McKEEN’S HOCKEY: Artemi Panarin, Steve Moses, Sergei Plotnikov and Alexander Burmistrov head the list of top-10 European players coming to the NHL next season.
FORBES.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs were the only NHL franchise to make Forbes’ list of the world’s 50 most-valuable sports teams for 2015.