The Nashville Predators have decided to buy out the contract of forward Matt Duchene, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Duchene, who signed a seven-year, $56 million deal with the Predators in 2019, was placed on unconditional waivers, indicating that he must be bought out by a specific deadline.
The move comes as no surprise, as multiple outlets reported the possibility of the buyout. The buyout entails the Predators paying Duchene not to play for them, and it will have a cap hit of $2.56 million next season, followed by increasing amounts in the subsequent years.
Duchene's tenure with the Predators has been a mixture of highs and lows. Over the course of four seasons, he recorded 84 goals and 113 assists in 249 regular-season games.
Notably, he had a breakout season in 2021-22, becoming the first player in franchise history to score at least 40 goals in a single season. However, his production was inconsistent during his first two seasons with the team, managing only 19 goals and 26 assists in his first 100 games.
The decision to buy out Duchene's contract is part of a series of moves made by the Predators since the announcement of incoming general manager Barry Trotz. The team has been actively reshaping its roster, making trades involving players such as Nino Niederreiter, Mattias Ekholm, Tanner Jeannot, and Mikael Granlund. Additionally, head coach John Hynes was fired, and Andrew Brunette was hired as his replacement.
Trotz had reportedly been attempting to trade Duchene but found no takers, ultimately leading to the decision to pursue a buyout. The move provides valuable salary-cap space for the Predators at a time when the cap has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nashville Predators have selected Joey Willis, a center from the Saginaw Spirit, in the NHL draft
In the NHL Draft, Joey Willis, a center from the Saginaw Spirit, was chosen by the Nashville Predators in the fourth round. This selection makes Willis the 64th player from the Saginaw Spirit to be drafted by the NHL.
Hailing from Elmhurst, Illinois, Willis was the 111th overall pick in the draft. He becomes the third Saginaw Spirit player to join the Predators, following Vaclav Meidl in 2004 and Josh Shalla in 2011.
During the 2022-23 season, Willis performed impressively and earned a spot on the Ontario Hockey League All-Rookie Team, ranking fifth in rookie scoring with 44 points, including 15 goals and 29 assists.