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Breakdown: Nashville signs Mathieu Olivier to a two-year, entry-level contract

Olivier spent his first pro season in Milwaukee this past year.

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Nashville Predators announced the signing of 22-year-old forward Mathieu Olivier to a two-year, entry-level contract. Olivier originally signed an AHL contract with Milwaukee last April for the 2018-19 season and cashed in on this NHL deal after appearing in 54 games for the Admirals this season.

By The Numbers

Olivier’s career statistics
eliteprospects.com

Olivier has never been counted on for his offensive production. Five years in the QMJHL with those point totals is the kind of production you don’t often see from players who secure NHL contracts. Granted, Frédérick Gaudreau is an example of someone who was not particularly stellar in his QMJHL career and has turned into a top-end AHL-level player, but even he had 134 points in 195 games in his junior career (0.69 points-per-game).

Olivier began his QMJHL career a handful of months before his 17th birthday and managed 14 points in a 53-game debut for Moncton. That pace was steady the next season, before Olivier doubled his output to 30 points for Shawinigan in 2015-16 and attended the Preds’ development camp that summer. After a down season in 2016-17 (which featured 102 penalty minutes), Olivier came back for an overage season with Sherbrooke and poster a career best 49 points in 67 games.

Overall, Olivier finished with 130 points in 300 QMJHL games (0.43 ppg) and tied for 15th in scoring on the Admirals this season with four goals and 12 points in 54 games. But he led the team in penalty minutes with 91. He wasn’t a total defensive liability, with a 51.43 GF% in Milwaukee this year, but he is not and will not be counted on to drive any offense, with a -0.92 goals-for rate relative to his teammates.

I call this what it is: Olivier is a hard-working player who does what he’s asked and seems to be well-regarded in Milwaukee. He’s good depth down there and maybe he can improve slightly on his offensive production. But I don’t see much NHL value here.

The Eye Test

Olivier was administered nine fighting majors this season and that’s mostly what you’ll see when you look for any particular game tape, like the one below against Chicago at the beginning of the season:

But Olivier also contributed to some nice offensive plays this season and settled in to a mostly net-front role.

Olivier won’t produce many goals like the one above, and you’ll likely notice he doesn’t skate with excellent speed through the neutral zone. But he does possess a good wrist and backhand shot and developed a reputation for his ability to sustain a forecheck below the goal line.

In the clip above, Olivier (#24) doesn’t just provide good puck support to the existing forecheck, but he seals off the other side of it, too. This allows him and Kirkland to dictate where the play goes and create space for Magwood to ultimately bury the puck.

Olivier has developed a unique set of hands around the net-front and that could be useful to carving out a decent career and might complement the range of more natural shooters the Admirals have in their lineup.

The Contract

The contract is two years in length beginning in the 2019-20 season. Olivier’s cap hit is unconfirmed, but expect his salary in the AHL to be at or around $70K. The maximum base salary he can receive in the NHL will be $832.5K per year. He will be a restricted free agent upon expiry.

As a look-ahead to next season, below is a brief snapshot of the Predators’ contract structure after this deal:

All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com and prospect-stats.com. All contract information is courtesy of capfriendly.com.