The Nashville Predators made a major statement this week. By locking in a key player, their Stanley Cup window is wide open.
Now that the Ryan Ellis signing is out of the way, the entire Nashville Predators organization and fan base can exhale a sigh of relief. The ongoing contract negotiation had the same feeling as when Philadelphia signed Shea Weber to an offer sheet. You knew talks were going on behind closed doors, but you didn’t know when exactly a deal would be made. It’s a decision that could very well change the course of the team.
A one year deal for Ryan Ellis simply wouldn’t cut it. But eight years? That contract length clearly shows the intentions of the Predators and Ellis. Both have faith in each other and a desire to win.
The all-important Stanley Cup is on the horizon for the Nashville Predators. After surprising the entire league by reaching the Cup Finals in 2017, the team followed up with the best overall record last year. Many predicted the Predators would hoist the Cup, but it didn’t go according to plan. The deals David Poile has put together over the years are specifically made to keep the team intact (and winning) for a long time. The new contract for Ryan Ellis opens the Stanley Cup window even more. Here are two big reasons why.
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Ryan Ellis’ new eight-year contract is so big it doesn’t even fit the Nashville Predators page on CapFriendly.com. Ellis and Ryan Johansen are the two longest contracts on the team right now. Kyle Turris and Viktor Arvidsson are right behind, signed until 2023-24. At a minimum, the core offense is locked up until 2022-23 when Forsberg and Jarnkrok become UFAs. The same can be said of the defense when Subban and Ekholm are up for new contracts. Josi has two years left on his deal, but if the Predators aren’t champions by then it’s doubtful he’s going anywhere.
David Poile has been smart with the deals he constructs. He goes for length–and somehow great prices. I definitely can see this trend continuing with players like Craig Smith and Kevin Fiala. But based on current contracts, the Stanley Cup window seems hinged upon the 2022-23 season. How can the Predators manage to sign important pieces like Forsberg, Subban, and Ekholm?
Signing those three players may not actually matter because the Nashville Predators have a relatively young roster. If the team can continue to cultivate talent like Fiala and Eeli Tolvanen, the roster will remain young, yet experienced. The JoFA line feels like an established, veteran line but their average age is only 25. At this time, only 4 players are 30 years old–the most important being Pekka Rinne. This bodes well for the team especially if they expect to make it down the long, arduous path to the Stanley Cup Final again.
If the Nashville Predators can maintain a younger roster with team friendly contracts, the Stanley Cup window will remain open for a long time. Right now, based on players ages and the contracts on the table, the window is set for at least the next five years. The Ryan Ellis signing gives faith that the team can continue the cycle of keeping a core intact and contending for a long time.
I’d say since Ellis is signed through 2026-27 you can expect some of the same players will be around then too. The team will be a lot different, albeit. Will they still be contending? That remains to be seen. But I think it extends the Nashville Predators Stanley Cup window past five years, more into the 5-7 range.