NASHVILLE -- Matt Duchene got a present during his first visit to Nashville since signing a seven-year, $56 million contract with the Nashville Predators on July 1.
In addition to his No. 95 Predators jersey, the forward received a custom-made Predators-themed guitar from Nashville mayor David Briley at Ford Ice Center.
"It's kind of surreal," Duchene said. "We talked for years of, 'If we end up in Nashville,' or that kind of thing over and over. Now we have and it's like all those things that we were talking about or dreaming and fantasizing about, we actually get to do now. It's really cool for us. We're trying to put some roots down here. It's a place that we've always thought would be a great place to raise a family. We're very excited for that prospect. We'll take care of all of that stuff so when the season comes around it's game on and all about the hockey."
Video: Duchene chats about new Predators contract
Since Duchene signed with the Predators he has examined the roster for potential linemates. Whether he plays with skilled finishers like Filip Forsberg or Viktor Arvidsson or a gifted playmaker in Mikael Granlund, Duchene is ready to pursue a top-six role.
"There's definitely no shortage of talent throughout the entire lineup, not just the top six," he said. "Obviously that's where I'd like to fit in, is in that group, and that's what I'll be working toward, but there's definitely no bad options of guys to play with here. The talent is amazing.
"It's been a team that you come into Bridgestone Arena as a visitor and you're playing against those guys, you know what they bring and you know what they can do. For me playing in Colorado as long as I did and being in the same division, you quickly find out a lot about this team. So I'm excited to be on the home team side of things at Bridgestone now."
Duchene understands there will be high expectations placed on him to be one of the Predators' most productive offensive players. The 70 points (31 goals, 39 assists) he had in 73 games with the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets last season was more than the 64 points (14 goals, 50 assists) Nashville's leading scorer, forward Ryan Johansen, had last season.
"I put a ton of pressure on myself, sometimes too much," Duchene said. "It's something I've learned to deal with over the years and I've definitely taken a step back on that and been more relaxed. As a young player that was probably my biggest fault, was how much pressure I put on myself. So it's still the case for me, but at the same time it's walking that line of letting yourself off when you need to and regrouping and getting ready for the next task at hand and also bearing down and making sure you're doing your job, whether it's in the summer getting your workouts in and making sure you're training even amongst these kind of crazy weeks. It's a big thing for me to come in. Obviously the organization has done a lot to bring me in and I want to give back to that."
Photo credit: John Russell/Nashville Predators