For a broken system, the NHL's General Managers sure seem to afraid to let it go. The CBA's final week has yielded a flurry of new deals, with seemingly every RFA under the sun getting an extension just before the bargaining agreement expires.
Defencemen Cam Fowler and Kevin Klein of the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators, respectively, are the latest two to re-up with their clubs just in advance of the lockout.
Fowler's deal will pay him $20 million over five years for a cap hit of $4 million per year. It's a bit of a risk for Ducks' GM Bob Murray, as Fowler had an impressive rookie campaign, putting up 10 goals and 30 assists in 2010-11, but regressed to 5 goals and 24 assists in his sophomore year. Worse, he's a career minus-53, so the defensive side of his game still needs some work.
That said, a healthy season from vertigo-free Jonas Hiller and the addition of underrated defensive defenceman Bryan should give Fowler a little support and help him chip away at that unseemly statistic.
Plus, with Justin Schultz bolting for Edmonton and Lubomir Visnovsky sent kicking and screaming to Long Island, Fowler will have every opportunity to create offense, since he's the only true puck-mover Anaheim's got left.
Nashville's deal with Kevin Klein comes in at $14.5 million over five years. He'll see $3 million during each of the first three years and $2.75 million for the final two seasons.
GettyWhile Klein is more of a stay-at-home type, he's scored some big goals and some beautiful goals in the past, and with Ryan Suter gone to Minnesota, the Predators will likely count on Klein for a little more offence. He had 21 points in 66 games last season, the best scoring pace of his career. Can he improve on it?
Now, it seems clear that the primary reason GMs are in such a hurry to get these deals done is to take advantage of a CBA you know and, hopefully, wind up paying less in the event of a salary rollback.
But in the case of these two deals, I suspect a P.R. aspect as well.
After a summer in which high profile defencemen made headlines for trying to leave -- Schultz, Suter, Weber -- the Predators and Ducks could be forgiven for wanting to give their fans a high note to go out on just before the lockout.
The Predators definitely used Klein's re-signing as a chance to re-assert how much their players love to play in Nashville. From the Tennessean:
"My family and I love Nashville; the fans, my teammates and the city have been very good to us," Klein said in a released statement by the Predators. "I am excited about being a part of this organization and community well into the future."
"Kevin Klein embodies the Predators way — the culture and belief system we have worked hard to create," General Manager David Poile said in the release. "He was drafted and developed by the team, has become an integral part of our defensive corps, and is committed to being a part of our long-term success."
As Sun Belt teams, the Ducks and Predators have to be a little more concerned than, say, the Canadian teams about what sort of impact the lockout will have on their attendance when it's over. A couple big core signings that might help to overshadow the impending negativity by reminding fans that the future in Nashville and Anaheim remains bright couldn't hurt.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney