It appears that one of the hottest free agents of the summer has already made up his mind.
Although the deal can not officially be signed until July 1st, there are now several reports that indicate that star forward Matt Duchene has already made his decision. According to a breaking news report from Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider Chris Johnston, it sounds like Duchene will become the next member of the Nashville Predators, and will become a very rich man in the process.
Johnston has reported the details of this deal, and it sounds like Duchene's contract will come in at an average annual value of $8 million per season. That is a big number to be sure, but there were some who believed that Duchene could earn upwards of $9 million per season which has to leave the Predators and general manager David Poile feeling pretty good right now.
Duchene is of course coming off a big season in which he split time between the Ottawa Senators and the Columbus Blues Jackets. Duchene had 27 goals and 31 assists for a total of 58 points in just 50 games with the Senators last season and although it took him some time to adjust to the Columbus system he eventually turned it on for that organization as well. In his 23 regular season games he had just 4 goals and 8 assists for 12 total points, but he would add 5 goals and 5 assists over 10 playoff games to once again show his dominant form.
There's no question that the Nashville Predators are getting one hell of a player out of this deal, and it may even be enough to assuage the fans who were upset over the fact that star defenseman P.K. Subban was traded for relatively little return. Although the trade itself did not much the Predators much of a return, if you focus on the cap space they cleared as the primary asset used to acquire Duchene, that trade starts to look a lot more reasonable.
The Predators needed more punching power on offense and now they have it. Only time will tell if the sacrifices they made on the blue line were the right ones.