NASHVILLE Cameron Meredith Jersey , Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators see no reason to make any major changes to a roster that won the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy, not with a group that has been so very close to that elusive Stanley Cup the past two seasons.
“It didn’t work out in the playoffs the way we wanted,” Nashville captain Roman Josi said. “But we truly believe this team can win a Stanley Cup, and that’s why we want to keep this team together.”
The Predators lost the 2017 Stanley Cup Final in six games to Pittsburgh and followed that up with the best regular season in team history. But Nashville’s quest for a repeat run to the Final ended in the first Game 7 on home ice in the Western Conference semifinals with a loss to Winnipeg , the team that finished second overall behind the Predators in the regular season.
Defenseman Mattias Ekholm said a Game 7 can go either way. The Predators know the rest of the Western Conference keeps loading up with talent through trades and signings. That makes just reaching the playoffs a challenge in the West, much less repeating either as conference or Central Division champs.
“It’s a privilege we are together still Kyle Brodziak Jersey , and we barely had any change on our roster,” Ekholm said. “I see that as a very positive thing.”
Some other things to know about the Predators this season:
Pekka Rinne is coming off a Vezina Trophy-winning season, his first in his fourth time as a finalist for the award for the NHL’s top goalie in the regular season. He was at his best carrying the Predators to the Presidents’ Trophy, going 42-13-4 with eight shutouts, a 2.31 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. He also earned his 300th career victory on Feb. 22. Rinne turns 36 in November and is going into the final season of his current contract.
The Predators also signed Rinne’s backup, a fellow Finn in Juuse Saros who was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team for the season. Saros Jesper Bratt Jersey Kids , 23, signed a three-year extension after going 11-5-7 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.
“There’s more skill on the ice than ever before, the same goes for goalies,” Rinne said. “You really have to take care of yourself, and I feel like I had a good summer. I’m healthy and energized and feel really good so looking forward to this season.”
Center Mike Fisher retired again, this time for good after coming out of retirement to rejoin the Predators in late February. Veteran forward Scott Hartnell also was let go with his experienced replaced by signing Dan Hamhuis John Brown Jersey , a defenseman Nashville drafted at No. 12 in the 2001 entry draft. Defenseman Alexei Emelin also was allowed to leave for the KHL.
Along with an extension for Saros, general manager David Poile also signed forwards Ryan Hartman and Miikka Salomaki to extensions keeping the restricted free agents around. The biggest deal of the offseason for Nashville easily was signing defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year deal worth $50 million that keeps him under contract through the 2026-27 season. Ellis still had a season remaining, so Poile kept the defenseman’s status from hanging over the Predators. The move also keeps three of Nashville’s top four defensemen — Ellis, P.K. Subban and Ekholm — signed through the 2021-22 season.
Eeli Tolvanen couldn’t have come to the NHL with much higher expectations after setting a scoring record as an 18-year-old for Jokerit in the Kontinental Hockey League, and he also tied for the second-most points by an under-19 player for Finland at the Winter Olympics with nine points in five games. He played three games down the stretch for Nashville. Rinne said European media were disappointed Tolvanen didn’t have a hat trick in his opener, but the goalie believes the teen made the right move to get acquainted with the Predators last spring.
The Predators sure could use a big step forward in the regular season by the big first-line center. Johansen ranked fourth on the team in points in the regular season with 54 in 79 games. Then Johansen scored better than a point a game with 14 points in 13 games in the postseason, and the center looking a bit more at the net than passing could provide a boost across the top line with Filip Forsberg.
The Chicago Bears are parting with veteran guard Josh Sitton and linebacker Jerrell Freeman.
Two people familiar with the situation said Tuesday the Bears have decided to decline their option on Sitton for next season and release Freeman. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the moves.
A four-time Pro Bowl lineman, the 31-year-old Sitton spent the past two seasons in Chicago after an eight-year run with Green Bay. He signed with the Bears after the Packers released him just before the 2016 season. Sitton dealt with rib and ankle injuries last season and missed three games.
The 31-year-old Freeman suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in the opener last year and was suspended for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs in each of his two seasons with the Bears. The second violation resulted in a 10-game suspension in late October.
Freeman said on Twitter at the time that he also suffered a potentially career-ending concussion in the opener, providing context to the drug violation. He said he downplayed the severity of his head injury to family and friends.
Freeman led Chicago with 110 tackles in 2016 despite serving a four-game suspension for his first violation. He played for Indianapolis from 2012-15.
The Bears went 5-11 last season and finished last in the NFC North for the fourth straight year. Chicago fired coach John Fox and replaced him with Matt Nagy.
NFL Network first reported the Bears are declining Sitton's option, while Pro Football Talk was first with the news on Freeman.