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Johansen raves about Nashville after signing big deal with Predators

at the Prudential Center on December 20, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.

at the Prudential Center on December 20, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.

Bruce Bennett

Hey, Ryan Johansen already had a reason to be happy going into this weekend.

After all, today is his dog’s birthday and Johansen’s 25th comes on Monday. That would have been a good reason to pop some champagne (and hand out some special canine treats) in itself.

Apologies to his pooch, but the best thing that happened today drew headlines: the Nashville Predators handed out their richest deal* to Johansen on Friday: an eight-year, $64 million contract.

You might not be shocked that Johansen said this is “probably one of the best days of my life right now,” according to’s Robby Stanley. It doesn’t hurt that Johansen gets the opportunity to stay in Nashville, a city that was deep into a hockey frenzy during the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Those are some great pleasantries, and there’s little reason to deny Johansen. Nick Bonino could attest, as he went from the Penguins to the Predators in part because of Nashville, claiming that there were better deals out there.

It’s probably more important that Johansen is healthy after the scary thigh issue that abruptly ended his playoff run, and Brooks Bratten of the Predators’ website notes that Johansen believes everything is going well and according to the plan.

That’s a promising update, especially since expectations will be high considering the price tag on that new deal. After taking a big step this past season, Johansen must prove himself once more, now that he’s one of the most expensive centers in the NHL.

On the bright side, even if he stumbles and becomes the object of some criticism ... he’ll at least have that cash and good ‘ol Doug.

* - Again, P.K. Subban carries a higher cap hit (but was traded to Nashville) and Shea Weber cost more overall (yet the Flyers “signed” him to an offer sheet), so it’s sort of semantics thing. The important thing to remember is that it was a lot of cash.