Pekka Rinne Signs in Nashville, What Happens to other Goalies in System?

 

Yesterday the Nashville Predators announced the signing of one of their cornerstones.  Pekka Rinne is coming off an incredible year where, if not for Zach Galifianaskis look alike Tim Thomas, would have won the Vezina Trophy.  The 2004 8th round pick was promptly rewarded with the richest contract in team history, a sign that Predators ownership is committed to building on the success of last year.

With Rinne’s signing, he all but guaranteed the starter’s job for the next eight years (his current deal expires after this season), or until the end of the 2018-19 season.  This effectively limits the options for any goaltenders in the Predators system.  There are three significant names whose career path is suddenly blocked.  Current backup Anders Lindback, Chet Pickard and Magnus Hellberg all are thought to have NHL starting goalie potential.

Anders Lindback

Anders Lindback (BridgetDS)

Lindback is almost a younger version of Rinne, a big Swedish goalie who uses his size to his advantage.  Having a career save percentage of 0.917 in the NHL and already having played pro in Sweden (Timra IK), it’s only a matter of time before he is ready to play more than a backup’s share of games.

Chet Pickard

Chet Pickard was a first round draft pick in 2008, coming off a 46 win season with Tri City of the WHL.  He turned pro in 2009, playing in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals.  Unfortunately he struggled, and this season was demoted to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.  The organization still has faith in him, and time is on his side being only 20 years old.

Magnus Hellberg

Aside from having a pretty epic last name, Hellberg was also the first goalie taken in the 2010-11 NHL Entry Draft in Minneapolis.  He, like Lindback, is a big goalie who uses his size to his advantage.  In limited action with Vastra Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League this season, Hellberg has played extremely well.  He is considered to have developed more than Pickard, and should cross the pond and sign with the Predators very soon.

These are three goalies who are affected significantly by the Rinne signing.  All three are still a ways away from becoming 60-game goalies in the NHL, but still have that potential.  With teams like Columbus, Calgary, Edmonton, Tampa Bay and others lacking “obvious” choices for #1 goalie of the future, Nashville General Manager David Poile has three young goalies he has the option of dealing for assets.

These three aren’t the only young goalies available though.  Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo’s capable young backup in Vancouver, is ready to assume a more prominent role.  Jonathan Bernier of the Los Angeles Kings is considered to be a future #1 netminder as well.  With goalies developing at a different rate compared to forwards and even defencemen, it’s still too early to tell who will get dealt.  But with the Predators needing to resign franchise stalwarts Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, an abundance of goaltending depth is the least of David Poile’s worries.

 

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Salim Valji

Salim Valji

Salim Valji is based in Edmonton AB, writing about all topics hockey for THW. His work has appeared in the Edmonton Journal, Fox Sports and NHL.com. He is credentialled by the WHL and Hockey Canada and attended the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He will be covering the 2012 IHHF World Junior Hockey Championship for THW.

3 Comments

  1. Tom you apparently don’t watch the Preds much. As a long-time fan, season ticket holder going back to Vokoun in goal there is not a goalie in the league that I would take over Pekka. He wins more games for the Predators than any goalie on anyother team. Everyone is saying they overpaid, to many years, it puts a bind on signing Weber and Suter but the truth is they still have plenty left to sign both. Remember they let Ward, Sully, Goc, O’Brien walk during free agency. They traded Lombardi and Franson along with buying out Dumont and Lebda. With the cap more than likely go up after the new CBA and the owners ablity to pay more now than ever they are just not one of the most competitive team but a competitive team with a low budget with lots of cap space.

    As far as Preds fans go it was a relieve to see Rinne in goal at Phoenix and knowing that we have him locked up for most of his career.

  2. I honestly have a lot of trouble with the Rinne contract because Nashville has been a goalie factory for years and now they finally decide to pay someone, but they give him the highest annual salary of any goalie in the league!

    I think Rinne is awesome but he’s not the best goalie in the league. And for a team that struggles to keep talent this is a tough precedent. How much will they have to pay Weber and Suter now? Their pay scale is out of whack.

    • I think that the way they’ve built their team (around stopping the puck), they will pay their goalie the big bucks as opposed to a forward. It suits the team perfectly, and Rinne looks to have proven that last year wasn’t a fluke.

      Thanks for the read!

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