Nashville Predators Find the Missing Piece, Sign Winger Nino Niederreiter

They made us wait a little bit, but the Nashville Predators have signed their much-needed winger for the top six as they signed Nino Niederreiter to a two-year deal.

The two years in term is pretty surprising, and great for the Predators as they’re not getting locked into something that could burn them for years to come. It’s a safe, but highly effective move:

Niederreiter’s deal is worth $4M AAV, which is kind of a bargain if you ask me. His value to what the Predators needed is going to be money well spent:

What will “El Nino” bring to the Nashville Predators?

First and foremost, I find it rather shocking that Niederreiter was still on the market this deep into free agency, eight days after opening. I had him pegged as a player the Predators should target before free agency opened up, and I’m thrilled they pulled it off.

Niederreiter is a team-first kind of player. He’s going to bring instant leadership to the locker room, over 700 games of NHL experience, and has scored 20-plus goals in six of his last eight seasons.

Another thing I like about Niederreiter is a very good defensive forward, putting up 119 hits last season. That will definitely fit the Predators’ style of play.

Although Niederreiter does tend to take his fair share of penalties, it should be nowhere near on the level that Luke Kunin was producing. Niederreiter had 34 penalty minutes last season. but in return put up 44 points.

Even though Niederreiter isn’t a prolific goal scorer, he produces enough to greatly help the depth production and take some of the pressure off of Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene to produce all of the goals.

Another reason to love this two-year deal is that Niederreiter is still in the midst of his prime at 29-years-old, but he is getting close to what you would expect to be his peak. This deal gives you leverage in case his production begins to slip in year two of the contract.

It’s a no-brainer that Niederreiter is an upgrade from Kunin, and him playing alongside Ryan Johansen at center will make for a productive line. Philip Tomasino is my frontrunner to be on the other wing, but there will be open competition for that role in training camp.

The Predators now have themselves a very formidable top-six, and have already addressed their defensive concerns with the trade of Ryan McDonagh. This team is hands down better since they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.

In regards to whether or not the Nashville Predators are done makig moves, I posed this question before the Niederreiter signing and thought he still fit the short list of players to look at.

With the Matthew Tkachuk sweepstakes in full effect, I don’t see the Predators landing him after signing Niederreiter. It’s still possible and crazy things happen all the time, but it was far-fetched before and is ever more so now.

Think about signing Tkachuk as being a grand slam, and the Niederreiter signing being a triple that at least drove in a couple of runs. A great addition by the Nashville Predators front office as this lineup suddenly looks like a legit contender to battle for at least top-three in the division and maybe go even deeper.