While the Edmonton Oilers after dishing out a lucrative contract to one of the up-and-coming faces of the NHL, the 2016-17 runners-up are -- or should be -- loving everything about their own big-money deal Friday.
The Nashville Predators announced an eight-year, $64 million extension for restricted free agent Ryan Johansen to close the week. And while an average annual salary of $8 million is no small chunk of change for the latest victims of a Pittsburgh Penguins title, the Predators are now sitting pretty as they eye deep postseason runs in the near future and down the road.
Acquired from the Blue Jackets in January 2016 after publicly admitting he felt shortchanged by Columbus, Johansen missed crucial time during Nashville's journey to the Stanley Cup Final thanks to acute compartment syndrome. He will be handsomely paid as the team's No. 1 center of the present and future. But the weighty contract for Johansen, who led Nashville with 61 points and probably warranted several looks from other teams even as a restricted free agent this summer, is one about which the Preds should be jumping for joy.
Just as Nashville's seven-year extension of Johansen's teammate Viktor Arvidsson sooner rather than later, the eight-year commitment to the club's top center ensures the Predators will -- or should -- be certified contenders for the better part of the next half-decade. Johansen, after all, is the oldest member of a top line that includes Filip Forsberg, and he's just 24.
One look at the Predators' locked-up core, as noted by Yahoo! Sports' Greg Wyshynski, should be enough to put fringe playoff teams -- heck, any playoff teams -- in the Western Conference on notice.
The Predators now have RyJo, 24, until 2025 ($8M cap hit); Forsberg, 22, until 2022 ($6M); Arvidsson, 22, until 2024 ($4.25M); P.K. Subban, 28, until 2022 ($9M); Roman Josi, 27, until 2020 ($4M) and Mattias Ekholm, 27, until 2022 ($3.75M).
If that doesn't sound promising, what does? Nashville has its own share of problems and question marks, including whether Pekka Rinne has as much long-term value as the team's young standouts, but it now also might be the clearest example of an NHL team with talent to go the distance -- and no financial barriers to stop them.