Who's No. 1?
The answer to that question got a lot clearer this summer when GM Dave Poile shipped Tomas Vokoun to Florida after the surprising emergence of Chris Mason, who showed he could be a No. 1 goalie while Vokoun was out with an injury. Mason goes into this season as the No. 1 man following a breakout season in which he went 24-11-4 with a .925 save-percentage and five shutouts. Mason, 31, finished the year ranked second in the NHL in save percentage, tied for sixth in shutouts and his 2.38 goals-against average was 10th in the League.
Mason played in four fewer games than Vokoun last season, but saw no action in the Preds’ first-round playoff loss to the San Jose Sharks. He’s already proven himself to be a reliable regular-season goalie, but Mason is still relatively unproven in the playoffs, where the Predators hope to improve on their five-game cameo last spring.
The Preds got a lot younger between the pipes when Mason was elevated to the starter and Vokoun was shipped off, leaving 24-year-old Pekka Rinne as the next man on the depth chart going into camp. Rinne, from Finland, is a big goalie at 6-foot-5 and has been in the Nashville system since the Preds selected him in the eighth round in 2004. He’s got two games of NHL experience under his belt and spent the last two seasons with Milwaukee of the AHL, where last season he went 15-7-6 with a 2.34 GAA and .920 save percentage.
In the Wings
Dan Ellis -- Originally drafted by Dallas in the second round in 2000, the 27-year-old signed as a free agent with Nashville this summer. He spent the last two seasons in the AHL with Iowa, where last season he went 30-21-1 with a 2.78 GAA.
Dov Grumet-Morris -- The 25-year-old Evanston, Ill., native originally was drafted by the Flyers in the fifth round in 2002 and signed with the Preds during the summer. The Harvard grad appeared in a total of 17 games last season for three AHL teams: Manitoba, Hamilton and Portland.
Jeremy Smith -- With an eye towards the future, the Preds took the 18-year-old in the second round of the 2007 Entry Draft. The Michigan native went 23-6-1 last year with Plymouth of the OHL, finishing his second junior season with a 2.59 GAA and .923 save percentage. He’s likely to be sent back to Plymouth.