Cross out another arbitration case as the Nashville Predators and restricted free agent Colin Wilson have come to terms on a four-year, $15.75 million contract.
The Predators announced the signing of Wilson on Monday morning and unveiled the terms of the contract via a release on the team’s website. Wilson’s new deal, which carries a $3.9375 million cap hit, will pay him $3.75 million in the first season of the contract, with each of the following three years paying out $4 million per campaign. Overall, it’s a brilliant deal for Nashville.
The raise for Wilson is a significant one, as he nearly doubles his salary from the past three seasons, but it doesn’t come even close to breaking the bank for the Predators. Following his entry-level deal, Wilson inked a three-year, $6 million deal that expired at the end of this past season.
Wilson, 25, was a first-round selection, seventh overall, of the Predators in the 2008 draft. Over his six seasons in the NHL, Wilson had shown steady growth, but it wasn’t until this past season that he really broke out.
After flirting with the 40-point plateau for the majority of his career – Wilson has had more than 30 points in three of his first five seasons – he finally broke the 20-goal and 40-point marks with a 20-goal, 42-point campaign this past season. In the post-season, he turned it up even further, leading the way for Nashville with five goals in six post-season games. Ultimately, the Predators were eliminated at the hands of the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, but that certainly wasn’t due to lack of production from Wilson.
What makes the deal so great for the Predators is that they get Wilson, who is set to turn 26 in October, under contract for a sub-$4 million cap hit just as it appears he’s finally finding his scoring touch in the big league. Should he keep trending upward, Wilson could become a 30-goal scorer by the time his contract is up, and the Predators will have eaten up two years of Wilson’s potential unrestricted free agency.
While Wilson’s improved play and potential over the next four seasons could lead to a bidding war come July 2019, Nashville GM David Poile will likely take that risk every time, especially considering he’ll be getting Wilson during the prime years of his career.
For Wilson, the next four years will now be about establishing himself as the player the Predators believe he can be. At 6-foot-1, 216 pounds, Wilson has the size and strength to be a top-six goal-scoring force for the Predators and if he puts it together, the bigger raise could come in the offseason following the 2018-19 campaign.
What’s interesting to note is that Wilson’s new raise is less than what Craig Smith, who also filed for arbitration with the Predators, got on his new long-term deal – a five-year, $21.25 million deal with a $4.25 million cap hit. Over the past three seasons, in 22 fewer games than Smith, Wilson has seven fewer 5-on-5 points, five more primary assists and three fewer goals. Both players also have scored almost the exact same amount of points per 60 minutes of even strength ice time -- 1.75 for Smith and 1.74 for Wilson.
Considering that, the Wilson deal looks like an even bigger steal and yet another awfully savvy move from Poile, who has been one of the best GMs over the past decade at building competitive teams on a budget. The Predators are about to get Wilson’s prime years at a cut rate, and the contract couldn’t look better.