Missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons provides all the more motivation to retool in order to create a roster that will stop that trend in its tracks. And that’s exactly what the Nashville Predators hockey ops department did during this off-season. In the coming weeks, I’ll offer a full review of a summer’s worth of transactions, by position. Let’s start at the net.
Not much activity here though Carter Hutton returns signed to a two year deal. The upside to life without number one net minder Pekka Rinne was that Carter Hutton was able to shoulder most of the load during Rinne’s absence and accelerate his development as he did. To his credit, Carter battled through plenty of adversity to come out the other side a solid NHL backup. Carter racked up 20 wins during this stretch and he grew measurably as a pro in my estimation.
I’m never one to pass up the low hanging fruit. Assuming number one netminder Pekka Rinne is healthy throughout 2014-15, that should translate into no less than a ten-point gain over last year’s totals. More than enough capital to earn a berth in the Western Conference top eight. No disrespect to Hutton, Mazanec or Hellberg, but Rinne ranks among the league’s best and it’s a steep climb when you’re without his services for 51 games.
So the recipe at net looks like this. A healthy Rinne backstopping for 60 or more games. Plus Carter Hutton relieving in 20 or so games where new goaltending coach, Ben Vanderklok, can hand pick some ideal spots to alleviate Rinne’s workload. If the past is any indication, this should be a very solid tandem at the key position. You like the way the Preds look at goal.
Next week I’ll analyze the blueline.
See you around the rink.