Jo­hansen scores 8-year deal with Preds

Penticton Herald - - SPORTS -

NASH­VILLE (AP) — Gen­eral man­ager David Poile has made it clear he’s been look­ing for a top cen­tre since first hired to build the Nash­ville Preda­tors 20 years ago.

He be­lieves he has just that in Ryan Jo­hansen, and that’s why the Preda­tors re­warded the 24-year-old cen­tre Fri­day with an eight-year, $64 mil­lion con­tract. It’s the big­gest deal the fran­chise has ever handed out.

“I think he is ready to take that next step to be­come an elite player in the Na­tional Hockey League,” Poile said. “Your ac­tions say vol­umes about what you and how you feel, how this is the long­est con­tract that we’ve ever given out since I’ve been here.

“Eight years, the money is sig­nif­i­cant, but we feel we got the right man to be our No. 1 cen­tre for a lot of years.”

The Preda­tors now have Jo­hansen un­der con­tract at an av­er­age of $8 mil­lion a year through the 2024-25 sea­son, and line­mates Filip Fors­berg and Vik­tor Arvids­son are signed for the next five years af­ter Arvids­son signed a seven-year, $29.75 mil­lion deal last week­end. Poile said that was the goal this off-sea­son. “We got our whole core signed up for a lot of guys for a lot of years, and I hope we’ve cho­sen cor­rectly,” Poile said for a team that lost the Stan­ley Cup in six games to Pitts­burgh in June. “I be­lieve we’ve cho­sen cor­rectly.”

Jo­hansen, who turns 25 Mon­day, tied for the lead in scor­ing with 61 points (14 goals, 47 as­sists) over 82 games this sea­son. He had 13 points (three goals, 10 as­sists) in 14 play­off games this spring be­fore acute com­part­ment syn­drome ended his post-sea­son in the Western Con­fer­ence fi­nal.

Jo­hansen said he is fully re­cov­ered and work­ing on con­di­tion­ing with the team’s strength coach.

Nash­ville traded for Jo­hansen in Jan­uary 2016, swap­ping de­fence­man Seth Jones to Colum­bus for the young cen­tre. Jo­hansen says he tried to em­brace the chal­lenge of prov­ing in the Preda­tors’ run to their first Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal that he is a top cen­tre and sees Nash­ville as the place where he be­longs.

“Just the class that they’ve shown with my­self and com­mit­ting and trust­ing me and be­liev­ing in me for these next eight years is just so hum­bling and so ex­cited for the next chap­ter, which is com­ing up fast with the short sum­mer,” Jo­hansen said.

This leaves only one big de­ci­sion re­main­ing for Nash­ville. Cap­tain Mike Fisher, 37, is ex­pected to de­cide within the next week whether he wants to re­turn or re­tire.

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