Barry Trotz was clear about the fact that he views Jordin Tootoo’s two-year contract extension as an investment and not a reward.
“Toots hasn’t reached his potential by any stretch of the imagination,” the Nashville Predators coach said. “He’s going to have to produce a little bit more here as a player. He’s got his foundation still — he’s got to be hard and physical and hard to play against. He’s got to develop his game to score a little more and develop his game to be more of an all-around player. That should be his goal.”
The deal, announced Friday morning, is worth $2.5 million and will keep Tootoo under contract with the Predators through 2011-12. It will play the 27-year-old forward $1.15 million next season and $1.35 million the following year.
His salary this season is $975,000.
Tootoo is the third Nashville player in two weeks to agree to an extension. Defenseman Kevin Klein signed a three-year deal on Jan. 19 and Marcel Goc was re-signed for another year on Jan. 27.
“I’ve said from Day One that I want Nashville to be my home, and I’m just happy to be a part of the team for the next two years,” Tootoo said following Friday morning’s workout. “It’s a great opportunity for me.”
A fourth-round draft pick in 2001, he has become a fan favorite since he made his NHL debut in 2003-04. He has spent his entire 330-game career with the Predators and earlier this season became the franchise’s all-time leader in penalty minutes.
A hip flexor injury in training camp caused him to miss the first 13 games of this season, and a broken foot in mid-December caused him to miss another 17. As a result, he already is guaranteed to play fewer games this season than any other since he turned professional.
He has two goals and eight assists in 26 appearances. The assist total already is the second-highest of his career. He had 12 in 2008-09. His career-high for goals is 11 in 2007-08.
“I’ve been here for a number of years now, and Nashville has been tremendous with me,” Tootoo said. “They’ve worked with me, and I’ve matured as a player. As the years go on, you become more comfortable. At the same time I don’t want to be too comfortable, I just want to go on and play my game.”
His coach wants to see him expand his game.
“There’s some players, they got through a lot in their career and they never reach their potential,” Trotz said. “He’s shown it in juniors and he’s shown it in spurts (in the NHL). Now he’s got to do it consistently.”
• Defenseman Ryan Suter was excused from Friday’s workout to be with his family in Wisconsin for his grandfather's funeral.
Suter, one of three Predators to have appeared in every game this season, is expected to rejoin the team for Saturday’s game against San Jose (7 p.m., Sommet Center).