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Report: Paul Gaustad signs four-year, $13 million deal in Nashville

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

NASHVILLEPREDATORSThe Nashville Predators clearly value what Paul Gaustad brings to their team.

At the trade deadline this past season they surprised many by matching Buffalo's asking price and sent a first-round draft pick the other way to acquire him.

With Gaustad set to reach the unrestricted free agent market on Sunday, the Predators made sure to lock him up to a long-term contract extension on Saturday evening by agreeing to terms on a four-year, $13 million contract according to Joshua Cooper of the Tennessean.

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In 70 games last season split between Buffalo and Nashville the 29-year-old Gaustad scored seven goals to go with 14 assists. He's never scored more than 12 goals in a single season and has only twice topped the 30-point mark.

What he does do, however, is win faceoffs. A lot of them. More than just about every other center in the NHL. His ability to dominate the faceoff circle makes him a valuable commodity, and while it seems like a lot of money (he made $2.5 million last year) he was probably the best center that would have hit the free agent market once you get past Olli Jokinen. Needless to say, it's a weak group down the middle this year, and if Gaustad didn't get that money from Nashville, he was going to get it from somebody else.

The Predators still have a few players that are set to hit the market at noon on Sunday, and none of them are bigger than defenseman Ryan Suter.

With Gaustad's reported cap hit included the Predators are still in the neighborhood of $32 million below the salary cap for the 2012-13 season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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