The Nashville Predators have signed forward Ryan Johansen to an eight-year contract worth $64 million, the club announced Friday.
The deal runs through the 2024-2025 NHL season and has an average annual value of $8 million.
Johansen arrived in Nashville after a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets in January of 2016. The exchange sent defenceman Seth Jones to the Jackets and put Johansen in line as the top centre in Music City.
In his first full season with Nashville, he tied for the team lead with 61 points in 82 games. He had 13 points in 14 playoff games before requiring emergency surgery to repair acute compartment syndrome in his left thigh. The injury kept him out of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Johansen is expected to be ready in time for training camp.
“This is probably one of the best days of my life right now,” said Johansen on Monday. “I’m just so thankful for my family and my brother and friends. They’ve done everything they can to guide me in the right direction and teach me and learn from.”
The Johansen signing means Nashville has locked in its top line for at least the next five seasons.
Filip Forsberg was signed to a six-year deal in June of 2016, while Viktor Arvidsson was signed to a seven-year contract just a few days ago.
24-year-old Johansen, a Vancouver native, is somehow the elder statesman of the line.
“I think he is ready to take that next step to become an elite player in the National Hockey League,” general manager David Poile said. “Your actions say volumes about what you and how you feel, how this is the longest contract that we’ve ever given out since I’ve been here. Eight years, the money is significant, but we feel we got the right man to be our number one centre for a lot of years.”
The contract is also the biggest per-year contract the Predators have ever signed, with Shea Weber holding the previous record while earning $7.8 million a season. Defenceman P.K. Subban is paid $9 million per year on his current deal, but that was signed by the Montreal Canadiens back in August of 2014.
The basic takeaway here is that the Predators have their top line centre and they’re going to be a very dangerous team for years to come. They’ve proven they belong in the dance and gave Pittsburgh a fight for hockey’s ultimate prize. Now they’re ready to take the next step.