Anthony Bitetto might be on the hook for dinner the next time he’s out with his teammates.
The 25-year-old defenseman inked a two-year contract on Friday morning to remain with the Nashville Predators organization through the 2017-18 season, a deal which will see him earn $1.225 million over that time span.
For Bitetto, who has appeared in 24 career NHL games, including 17 this season, the deal signifies a desire for the Preds to keep him in the fold. That feeling was reciprocated multiple times from the Island Park, New York, native.
“I’m excited, it’s like one of those dream-come-true-type moments,” Bitetto said Friday of the deal. “It’s one of those things in your life you’ll always remember. Being part of Nashville, they drafted me, so I think that whole process, you go through the ranks and now you’re finally here. It’s been something that I always wanted. I’m glad it’s with Nashville.”
Drafted by the Predators in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Bitetto spent two seasons at Northeastern University, before making stops in Cincinnati and Milwaukee, Nashville’s ECHL and AHL squads respectively, where he continued to improve his game.
The Predators coaching staff and management were impressed enough with that growth to recall Bitetto for the first time last season, giving him seven games of action. After sticking with club out of training camp in 2015, Bitetto patiently waited his turn on the blue line. Those chances started coming consistently on Jan. 8 at Colorado, leading to Bitetto picking up his first NHL point, an assist, in a 5-0 win over Florida on Feb. 13.
Bitetto hopes Friday’s contract is another one of many with the franchise, stating his belief that Nashville gives him a chance to win the ultimate prize.
“Hopefully one day in two years, you sign another deal with this organization, so that’s kind of the mindset,” Bitetto said. “I’m really excited the position the organization is putting me in. Where we stand, we’re fighting for a good playoff spot and hopefully a chance at the Stanley Cup in the next couple years, if not this year. All of that’s exciting; the emotions are there and I’m really fortunate and happy with the choice I’ve made.”
Once a kid from Long Island, Bitetto has now found a home in Music City, and if it means he has to buy a supper or two, that’s fine by him.
“The biggest thing is I’m excited to be here and that’s what I wanted,” Bitetto said. “I wanted to be here and I’m glad Nashville wanted the same thing.”