The worst-kept secret may no longer be a secret.
According to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston (a friend of the Battery Life podcast), Matt Duchene is set to sign with the Nashville Predators once NHL free agency open at 12 p.m. ET on July 1.
It sounds like Matt Duchene will join the #preds. Expect his contract to come in with an $8M AAV.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 1, 2019
The reported $8 million AAV comes in much lower than many projected for Duchene, who is coming off a 31-goal regular season and a solid playoff run with the Blue Jackets. Duchene scored five goals and added five assists in 10 playoff games with Columbus, a postseason that included a four-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Duchene is coming off a contract that earns him $6 million annually – signed while in Colorado – and while some pundits had him possible approaching $10 million AAV with this next contract, it appears that won't be the case. Duchene has long had an affinity for Nashville and the possibility of playing for the Predators, who tried to acquire him a couple of years ago (as did Jarmo Kekalainen and the Blue Jackets).
The feeling has been mutual for Predators GM David Poile, who is signing the player he intended to sign after trading P.K. Subban's contract at the NHL Draft last week.