As expected, Matt Duchene will reportedly be heading to Music City.
On Sunday, the eve of NHL free agency, it was reported that Duchene had agreed to sign with the Nashville Predators. According to Sportnet's Elliotte Friedman, the new deal will be "in the area of seven years at $8 million per."
Nashville headed into this offseason with their sights set on improving down the middle, and Duchene certainly helps them do that. The 28-year-old is the biggest name at center in this year's free agent class. Duchene is coming off a career year in which he recorded 70 points (31-39-70) in 73 games.
Duchene started the season with the Ottawa Senators before being dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline. He was a key piece during the Jackets' playoff run to the second round, recording five goals in 10 points in 10 games for Columbus.
Per Friedman, the Blue Jackets attempted to retain Duchene's services with an eight-year offer in the same neighborhood as Nashville's, but the center decided to join the Preds. (It's worth noting that Tennessee has no income tax.)
It's clear that the Preds were positioning themselves for a big free agent splash when they dealt PK Subban to the Devils earlier this offseason. That move was seemingly a glorified salary cap dump in order to help free up some money for the Duchene signing.
Duchene and Nashville also already have a little bit of history. The Predators played the role of facilitator in the three-team trade that sent Duchene from Colorado to Ottawa a few years ago as he sought to play for a winner.