Predators sign Austin Watson to 3-year, $4.5M contract

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year contract worth $4.5 million, the team announced Thursday.

Watson's current contract, which pays him $1.1 million this season, was set to expire at the end of the campaign.

"Austin is the ultimate team player and we look forward to continuing to see him thrive and be an impactful member of our team," general manager David Poile said. "The Predators organization continues to support Austin and his family and are pleased to take this next step forward with them. His hard work, coupled with a caring environment, has him in a good place to be successful on and off the ice. Austin sticks up for his teammates and does whatever is necessary to help this team win hockey games."

Watson was suspended for 27 games - though the ban was ultimately reduced to 18 contests - last September after pleading no contest to a domestic assault charge. He was reinstated by the NHL and NHLPA in March after going through the follow-up care phase of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.

The 27-year-old winger was drafted 18th overall by the Predators in 2010. He's notched 65 points over 265 games for his career.

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Habs’ Kotkaniemi day-to-day with groin injury

Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi is dealing with a groin injury and won't play Thursday versus the Vegas Golden Knights, head coach Claude Julien announced.

The sophomore pivot is only expected to be out day-to-day, according to Sportsnet's Eric Engels.

Kotkaniemi has struggled so far in 2019-20, tallying just three points in 12 games, including only one in his last nine. The 19-year-old Finn was drafted third overall by the Canadiens in 2018 and registered 34 points in his rookie campaign.

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Jets GM: Byfuglien situation is a ‘complicated issue’

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff discussed Thursday the situation surrounding inactive defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who has been away from the team for the opening stages of the season and recently underwent ankle surgery.

"It's a complicated issue," Cheveldayoff told reporters. "I'm here to speak but there's really not much that I can enlighten beyond what's been talked about as it stands right now."

He added: "Going back to the start of training camp, that's when we met with Dustin and those are all pretty well-documented stuff and obviously over the course of time here, he has had an ankle surgery here now and we're dealing with that. So with respect to really anything else that I can comment on, that's pretty much where it's at, at this point in time. We're in constant conversations with his agents and that's where we're at."

Byfuglien didn't attend training camp and was reportedly contemplating his future in the sport after being granted a personal leave. The team subsequently suspended him, but the ban was strictly for financial reasons, as he was made aware it was done so the Jets could remove his $7.6-million cap hit from their books.

The 34-year-old blue-liner reportedly underwent the ankle procedure last week to repair an unresolved injury he suffered during the 2018-19 season, and his recovery could take more than four months, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

The NHL Players Association is in discussions with Byfuglien's agent, Ben Hankinson, to review the situation. If it's determined Byfuglien was injured playing hockey, the financial aspect of the issue could become more complicated, Dreger added.

Byfuglien has played 14 NHL seasons and was held back by injuries last year. He managed to produce 31 points in 42 games and led all Jets skaters in ice time at 24:22 per contest.

The Jets have felt the effects of his absence to start the campaign. The club is 6-7-0 and sits three points outside the playoff cutline.

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Malkin hiring lawyer to investigate Russian report of lost investment

Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin is hiring a lawyer to investigate how his name became associated with a company called Mark.Space and its financial losses, the player's agent, J.P. Barry, said, according to TSN's Rick Westhead.

Russian website reported on Oct. 29 that Malkin invested $4 million in Mark.Space, a virtual reality startup. After delays in development, the company reportedly used an initial coin offering (ICO) - which uses cryptocurrency to crowdfund projects - to raise an additional $10 million by attaching Malkin's name to the project.

That money has since been lost, according to

Malkin is discussing with lawyers why his name was included in the report by and plans to hire someone to investigate its claims.

Barry said Malkin invested around $2 million in a clothing company that was run by his long-time friend. That company sold clothing online but Malkin wasn't aware it was in the cryptocurrency industry, his agent said.

"This is about two (business) partners going at each other and (Malkin) now has to figure out what happened," Barry said. "A lawyer will have to go in and get all the documents and figure out what happened with the company."

Barry said neither he nor Malkin was contacted at any point by to comment on its findings prior to the report being published.

"No, the internet - it's garbage," Malkin told Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now. "I don't like the internet. ... Right now, it's garbage for me. I know I'm a good guy. I don't know what to say about that, because it's a little bit crazy for me, but I know it's nothing bad."

Malkin, who has been out with a lower-body injury since Oct. 5, returned to practice Monday and is hopeful to play Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.

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Jets’ Letestu shut down for 6 months with myocarditis

Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Letestu will miss at least six months after being diagnosed with myocarditis, a virus that attacks the heart, head coach Paul Maurice confirmed Thursday to Jets reporter Mitchell Clinton.

Letestu's long-term health is not in question, but the 34-year-old will only be able to take part in light physical activity.

The veteran forward inked a one-year, $700,000 pact with the Jets in July and has appeared in seven games for the club this season.

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Caps’ Oshie looks to Nationals to continue fountain-diving tradition

T.J. Oshie is hoping the Washington Capitals' rather unconventional championship tradition lives on in the wake of the Washington Nationals' World Series victory Wednesday night.

After the Capitals captured their first Stanley Cup in 2018, the players made headlines with their exuberant celebrations, which included splashing around in public city fountains in Washington, D.C.

Oshie also quipped about taking responsibility for any fountains that went unused, adding he'd love to join the celebration.

"That's according to Yelp, so if I left anyone's fountain out, I apologize," the Capitals forward said, according to's Tom Gulitti. "But I'm sure those guys are going to have a good time and if they happen to jump in a fountain, I hope I get the call."

D.C. sports teams have now captured three professional championships over the last 16 months, with the Nationals, Capitals, and the WNBA's Washington Mystics all taking home their respective leagues' ultimate hardware.

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Hall: Devils ‘kind of battling our own fans right now’

New Jersey Devils star Taylor Hall was rather miffed by the chorus of boo birds coming from the Prudential Center crowd during Thursday's 7-6 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We’re kind of battling our own fans right now," Hall said, according to The Trentonian's Mike Ashmore. "We were 1-for-3 on the power play and we are getting booed. It’s a tie game, we are getting booed.

"That’s a tough environment to play in sometimes, especially when you are at home ... If you’re playing at home, you want to feed off the energy of the crowd and not let that affect you, but sometimes it does.”

Hall, whose two assists in the contest pushed his point total to nine in 10 games this season, is playing in the final year of his current deal and is scheduled to become one of the league's most coveted unrestricted free agents on July 1.

The 27-year-old became the first player in Devils' history to capture the Hart Trophy after his career-best 93-point campaign in 2017-18.

Following an exciting offseason, the Devils sit in last place in the Metropolitan Division with only two wins over their first 10 games.

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