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Mazanec could be backup goalie for Predators

Signs one-year contract with Nashville; Hutton set to become free agent

by Cutler Klein @CutlerKlein / Staff Writer

Nashville Predators goaltender Marek Mazanec signed a one-year, two-way contract Monday and could be Pekka Rinne's backup next season, according to general manager David Poile.

Carter Hutton, who was Nashville's backup goalie this season, can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Poile said Monday that Hutton would be on his way out, with the latter seeking a bigger role and more playing time. Hutton played 17 games during the regular season and went 7-5-4 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

"In our last conversation, I think [Hutton] sees signing with the Predators as a little bit of a dead end for his career," Poile said. "I think more than I guess you could say term or money, I think he feels that going to another team will give him a better opportunity to get more games and to probably extend his career. It's not over yet, but I would say that's probably the way [Hutton] is leaning, and I have a tough time arguing against that."

Mazanec, who turns 25 on July 18, played 39 games for Milwaukee in the American Hockey League this season. He went 19-15-5 with a 2.45 GAA, a .912 save percentage and four shutouts.

Mazanec has played 27 games in the NHL, 25 in 2013-14. He is 8-11-4 with a 2.07 GAA and a .902 save percentage.

Poile did not confirm Mazanec would be the Predators backup next season but said he would be content with that situation, citing Mazanec's experience filling in for Rinne in 2013-14.

"[Mazanec] has now played three or four years down in Milwaukee," Poile said. "Two years ago when [Rinne] got hurt, he came up here and played 25 games and played great. If this is the direction that we go, I'm very comfortable that we will be fine in that area."

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