Predators General Manager David Poile had three items on his to-do list entering the weekend: sign Viktor Arvidsson, Austin Watson and Ryan Johansen. By the end of the day Monday he had inked two of the three.
Poile managed last minute deals to avoid salary arbitration with both Arvidsson and Watson, by striking deals that will make both players happy and keep them in gold for the foreseeable future.
The Predators sat through an arbitration hearing with Arvidsson, but were able to agree to terms on a seven-year, $29.75 million contract before the arbitrator ruled on the case. The long-term contract locks up one of the NHL's breakout stars from last season. Arvidsson, 24, tied for the team lead in goals with 31, and only Oilers star Connor McDavid had a bigger increase in point production. This deal ensures Arvidsson will continue to be a key cog opposite Filip Forsberg on the team's top line for years to come.
Watson emerged last season as well, as the the former first round pick reinvented himself as one of the most physical forwards in the NHL. Watson also showed a knack for the big play in the postseason, scoring four goals during the Preds' playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final after managing just five goals in 77 games during the regular season. The three-year, $3.3 million deal Nashville gave him locks up a key depth forward and one of their best defensive forwards.
And after both deals were done, Poile still has approximately $14 million left to play with as he tries to entice Johansen with a lucrative long-term deal to be the team's top line center. It also means the team will have room if captain Mike Fisher decides to return next season.
Poile has positioned the Predators favorably to remain Cup contenders for the foreseeable future. Arvidsson and Watson join Forsberg, Craig Smith, Nick Bonino, Calle Jarnkrok, Pontus Aberg, Colton Sissons, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban, Mattias Ekholm and Pekka Rinne as pieces that now have at least two years remaining on their contracts. Of that group, only Rinne is older than 29 years old.
That young nucleus is why many believe the window for the Predators to win a Stanley Cup is just opening. And David Poile deserves all the credit for assembling that talent and keeping them together.