The Stanley Cup runners-up continue to lock up the core of this team for the immediate future. The Nashville Predators extended the contracts of three key defensemen. Although the top four (Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm) have already been secured for varying lengths that run up to and through the 2021-22 season, three bottom pairing defensemen that have played pivotal roles over the past two seasons have been locked up with their signings today.
Nashville Predators Extend Defensive Trio
Anthony Bitetto received a one-year extension through the 2018-19 season. Bitetto’s deal is a one-way contract with a salary of $650,000. Originally drafted by Nashville in the 2010 draft (6th round, 168th overall), Bitetto has been plagued by some injury over the previous two seasons, limiting his appearances to just 57 regular season games. Last season, during the Preds run to the Stanley Cup Finals, Tony also added 14 post-season games to his dossier. This season, Bitetto has appeared in 22 games, notching a goal and a pair of assists.
Matt Irwin re-ups for two-years
Both Matt Irwin and Yannick Weber received two-year deals, giving them security through the 2019-20 season. Both deals, reported at $675,000 should keep the two in Preds gold for the foreseeable future. The two arrived in Nashville prior to the start of the 2016-17 campaign. Irwin, 30, a former San Jose Shark, had spent one season in the Bruins organization, playing predominantly in the American League, at Providence.
His journey back to the NHL started with a handful of games in Milwaukee, before an early October recall and a successful integration into the Preds system. This season, Matt has appeared in 31 of the team’s first 41 games and has 2 goals and 5 assists. Weber, 29, was originally drafted by Montreal and spent three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks prior to his signing in Nashville during the 2016 off-season. In his first year in Nashville, Weber teamed up (predominantly) with Irwin to form and excellent third pairing for what is widely considered an elite NHL defense corps. This season, hampered by the occasional injury, Weber has skated in 25 games, and has chipped in with a goal and two assists.
Only Alexei Emelin, longtime Montreal Canadiens defenseman, who was exposed to the expansion draft, picked up by Las Vegas and later dealt to Nashville prior to the start of this season remains an Unrestricted Free Agent after this campaign is completed.
Nashville General Manager David Poile has arguably, and shrewdly locked up a large portion of what should be a competitive franchise for the foreseeable future
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