It may be the middle of the summer but Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile is doin’ work.
Yesterday, he signed seventh defenseman Petter Granberg to a two-year, two-way deal and, today, he inked first line winger Calle Jarnkrok to a six-year deal. Both were restricted free agents with arbitration dates set for August 3 and August 4, respectively.
He also penned free agent blueliner Matt Carle to a one-year deal worth just $700,000.
Granberg and Carle allow the Predators organization to develop the young blueliners already in the system as there’s a huge drop off in “NHL readiness” after PK Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Anthony Bitetto, Yannick Weber, Carle and Granberg. A traditionally highly touted defensive pipeline is pretty thin at the moment and until 2013 pick Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, 2014 draftee Jack Dougherty and 2016 picks Dante Fabbro, Samuel Girard and Frederic Allard are ready for prime time (2018?), Granberg and Carle are now integral parts of that insurance policy if one of the big six goes down for any length of time.
Carle was once thought as a possible replacement for Ryan Suter when he up and left the Predators in the summer of 2012. Instead of Music City, he joined the Tampa Bay Lightning and never really put up the kind of seasons he or the Bolts had hoped for. A 35-40 point guy under Peter Laviolette in Philadelphia, only one of his four years in Tampa saw him eclipse 30 points (31 in 2013-14). In addition, he had just nine last year despite playing in 64 games. Perhaps he can become another chapter in Poile’s “revitalize your NHL career here” book.
Jarnkrok, however, is an interesting deal. Not because it isn’t welcomed by the Predators faithful — it absolutely is — but because of the details. My California public school education tells me that a six year contract worth $12 million total is $2 million per year. This is a guy who found a home on the top line with Ryan Johansen and James Neal for much of the last half of the 2015-16 season, bagging 16 goals and amassing 30 points.
While $2 million AAV for a (possible) top line winger can’t be seen as anything but a steal, by agreeing to that cap hit for that many years, Jarnkrok is clearly saying he loves Nashville, he loves the organization and he believes he can be a part of something special in the near future, perhaps even a Stanley Cup. Why else would a 24-year old who just had a career year who also has the potential for even more production lock himself into one situation for so long and so little?
One of the rare negative consequences of his new deal is that Jarnkrok also just became a “player of interest” for the 2017 Expansion Draft. Back in June of 2012, now Las Vegas General Manager George McPhee said “You can survive the loss of a player but it’s hard to survive bad contracts.” Well, an extremely attractive contract for a top-six forward just fell into his lap. And, when he poaches a player off of each club next summer, that top-six forward could be in a Las Vegas sweater for half a decade so he’d be a long-term piece as well.
Playing with GeneralFanager.com’s Expansion Draft Tool, it’s pretty clear to see that, most likely, Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Craig Smith, Subban, Josi, Ellis, Ekholm and Pekka Rinne will be the eight skaters and one goalie Nashville can protect. That leaves an extremely affordable Jarnkrok on the available list and/or an extremely tough decision for Poile and the Predators brass if he has a monster season and decide they want to protect him.
In short, all three signings have significant value, albeit for completely different reasons. Regarding Jarnkrok, however, next summer you’ll have to keep an eye on the state of Nevada, say around June 21.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kristen Jerkins // Flickr