Stamkos signs 4-year deal with Predators after leaving Lightning

Marchessault signed a five-year, $27.5 million deal with the Predators ($5.5 million annually) after he and the Vegas Golden Knights failed to reach an agreement on a contract. The 33-year-old, an original member of the Golden Knights, said he was disappointed he couldn’t renew with Vegas, but told TSN: “I turned the page an hour ago. We move on. A new chapter, a new challenge for me and my family.”

Marchessault, the 2023 Conn Smythe Award winner as the playoffs’ MVP when he helped the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup, had 69 points (42 goals, 27 assists) in 82 games last season and four points (two goals, two assists) in seven playoff games. He has 487 points (230 goals, 257 assists) in 638 regular-season games with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Lightning, Florida Panthers and Golden Knights, and 76 points (36 goals, 40 assists) in 102 playoff games.

“To me, it’s an organizational win today,” Trotz said. “But we’re not playing the game on paper. Our lineup looks better, but we have to be a better team. Just plain and simple. You saw last year that it took a while. This year it’s going to take a while for some guys. We have guys from different organizations that don’t play exactly the same way, but I think their DNA allows them to play the way we want them to play. We have to give them a little bit of time, and then hopefully we can get our feet off the ground and get into training camp. I’m really excited about that.”

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Trotz said his top priority before entering the free agency market was to fill the void in the roster after Nashville traded defender Ryan McDonagh to Tampa Bay on May 21.

“A, he’s a good defender, and B, he’s a leader,” Trotz said of McDonagh. “If I had to prioritize, I’d say I need to fix the back line because I told our players I would.”

The Predators believe they have done just that with Skjei, who they signed to a seven-year, $49 million contract ($7 million average per year). The 30-year-old posted an NHL career-high 47 points (13 goals, 34 assists) in 80 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season and nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 11 playoff games.

Skjei was selected by the New York Rangers in the first round (28th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft, where he recorded 247 points (68 goals, 179 assists) in 609 regular season games with the Hurricanes and Rangers, and 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) in 76 playoff games.

The Predators also re-signed defenseman Alexandre Carrier to a three-year, $11.25 million contract ($3.75 million average annual value) and signed goaltender Gus Saros to an eight-year, $61.92 million contract ($7.74 million average annual value) that begins in the 2025-26 season.

Saros, 29, has one season left on a four-year, $20 million ($5 million per year) contract he signed with Nashville on Aug. 16, 2021. He had 35 wins, 24 losses, 5 losses with a goals-against average of 2.86 and a save percentage of .906 in 64 games last season, 2 wins, 4 losses with a goals-against average of 2.02 and a save percentage of .900 in six playoff games.

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Carrier, 27, had 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) in 73 games last season, and three points (one goal, two assists) in three playoff games.

Wedgewood signed a two-year, $3 million contract ($1.5 million annually) to compete as Saros’ backup. He had 16 wins, 7 losses, 5 losses, 2.85 goals per game and .899 save percentage in 32 regular-season games (28 starts) for the Dallas Stars last season and averaged 2.28 goals per game and .862 save percentage in three games off the bench in the playoffs (no decisions) — his only NHL postseason experience.

Selected in the third round (84th overall) by the New Jersey Devils in the 2010 NHL Draft, the 31-year-old has a 48-48-22 record with a 2.98 goals-per-game average and a .899 save percentage in 130 NHL regular season games (114 starts) with the Devils, Arizona Coyotes, and Stars.

Goaltender Yaroslav Askarov, who was selected by Nashville with the No. 11 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, will also compete for a backup goaltender role in training camp. He has played three NHL games.

The Predators believe their free agency additions have given them the ingredients to compete in the playoffs.

“I’ve been on teams that have won championships in the past in Tampa,” Stamkos said. “You see those teams that have won recently, there’s always a combination of a really good goalie, an elite defender and some elite forwards. Even before today with the signings, Nashville had that in mind. Obviously, a great goalie. (Defenseman) Roman Josi, he speaks for himself. You have [forwards Filip Forsberg, Ryan O’Reilly and Gustav Nyquist]“This line was dynamic last year. They have a great mix of younger players as well.”

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The Predators have yet to decide where Stamkos, Marchessault and Skjei will start, but Stamkos and Marchessault are likely to be in the top six. Skjei could play with Josi in Nashville’s top two.

“We’re so excited to be a part of this amazing franchise,” Stamkos said. “We saw what happened today with some of the other signings. It’s a great day to be a Nashville Predators fan. We’re so excited to be a part of it.”

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