Nashville Predators sign Nino Niederreiter to two-year, $8 million contract

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Nino Niederreiter to a two-year, $8 million contract, the team announced Thursday.

The Predators needed to boost their offense even after signing Filip Forsberg to an eight-year extension earlier this month. Niederreiter, coming off back-to-back 20-plus-goal seasons, is a big winger (6-foot-2) with a strong two-way game who can drive play offensively and is an excellent forechecker.

Nashville gets all that without committing long term or big dollars toward a player poised to make an immediate impact on the lineup.

The 29-year-old Niederreiter had 24 goals and 20 assists in 75 games last season for the Metropolitan Division-winning Carolina Hurricanes, who were eliminated in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. He said the Hurricanes had a really hard time beating the Predators.

"They're such a competitive team,'' Niederreiter said via Zoom from Switzerland. "They skate really hard. They're very physical and hard to compete. And I think we had a really tough time. And I think this team is not very far from having such a great run.''

Carolina general manager Don Waddell had said he wanted to bring back both Niederreiter and forward Vincent Trocheck, saying that "those guys play key positions for us up front." But Carolina lost out on both players, as Trocheck signed a seven-year, $39.3 million contract with the New York Rangers last week.

Niederreiter is coming off a five-year contract with an average annual value of $5.25 million. This is his first venture into unrestricted free agency.

He signed that five-year deal with the Minnesota Wild in the 2017 offseason before being traded to the Hurricanes in January 2019 and spending the past 3½ seasons in Carolina.

Niederreiter broke into the NHL with the New York Islanders, who selected him with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft. He has totaled 181 goals and 187 assists in 732 career games, scoring at least 25 points in nine of his 12 NHL seasons.

He has played in each NHL postseason since 2014 and has 15 goals and 15 assists in 82 playoff games. He had four goals in 14 playoff games for Carolina this last postseason.

The Swiss player won silver medals with Predators captain Roman Josi at the 2013 and 2018 world championships. Niederreiter also played with Nashville center Ryan Johansen with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL and scored against then-Wild goalie Mikael Granlund, who is now a teammate in Nashville, during the 2016-17 season.

"Obviously, knowing Josi for quite a lot of time made it very easy to come, but knowing that I have a chance to play potentially with Johansen or Granlund made things a lot easier," Niederreiter said. "I played with Johansen for quite some time in the minors and obviously was with Granny in Minny.''

Nashville's physical play was yet another attraction for Niederreiter, who predicts it will be a good fit.

"I thought back then they play a great style of hockey, and now I have a chance to play for them,'' he said. "So hopefully it works out perfect.''

ESPN's Kristen Shilton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.