NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2017

Nashville Predators re-sign center Ryan Johansen to an eight-year contract.

Predators re-sign Ryan Johansen plus updates on the Wild and Penguins in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators yesterday announced the re-signing of center Ryan Johansen to an eight-year, $64 million contract. The $8 million annual average value ties Johansen for eighth among NHL centers in 2017-18 and lacks no-trade protection. He tied for the team lead in points last season (61), including a career-best 47 assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johansen, who turns 25 on July 31, completed a three-year, $12-million contract he signed as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, earning $6 million in actual salary last season. 

Johansen reached or exceeded 60 points in each of the last four seasons. His overall performance improved after joining the Preds from Columbus midway through 2015-16. In the 2017 playoffs, he was their top forward until a leg injury midway through the Western Conference Finals ended his postseason. They certainly missed his playmaking skills in the Stanley Cup Final. 

As The Tennessean points out, Johansen teamed up with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson to give the Predators a lethal top scoring line. Now in the prime of their NHL careers, the trio are now all under contract for the next five seasons. If their line chemistry continues over the period, the Preds could be a perennial Stanley Cup contender.

What’s interesting about Johansen’s contract is it apparently isn’t front-loaded and none of his annual salary is paid out in signing bonuses. The lack of a no-trade/no-movement clause suggests the Johansen camp was willing to forsake that protection for the security of an expensive, long-term deal.

The Predators now have over $69 million invested in 24 players for 2017-18, giving them sufficient wiggle room under the $75 million cap ceiling to additional moves if necessary, such as perhaps bringing back center Mike Fisher for one more run at the Cup. They’re also in good shape for 2018-19, with nearly $60 million tied up in 16 players and all of their core performers under contract. 

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau remains disappointed over his club’s early exit from the 2017 playoffs. However, he’s optimistic for next season and is pleased with the club’s off-season additions, including forwards Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis. He’s also hoping to lighten the workload of starting goaltender Devan Dubnyk. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: The Penguins hired Scott Young as their director of player development. He replaces Mark Recchi, who was recently promoted to assistant coach. Jarrod Skalde takes over as player development coach and Brendan Sullivan becomes their goaltending development coach.