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Instant Analysis: The Lindback Signing

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
From a Preds roster standpoint, today's signing of Anders Lindback probably doesn't change any plans for the NHL roster as Lindback will likely open the season in the AHL. GM David Poile and Head Coach Barry Trotz have long been proponents of developing and preparing young players through the organizational pipeline rather than throwing young players into the NHL.

The Preds are excited to see how quickly
Lindback makes the transition to the North
American game. Remember, Rinne spent
three season in the AHL before becoming an
NHL regular in '08-09. Fellow Swede Patric
Hornqvist needed a season in North America
before his breakout campaign this season; this
season Hornqvist regularly commented on how
much he learned during '08-09 -- his first
season in North America -- about the speed
and size of the North American game. Still, Preds
goaltending coach Mitch Korn spoke very highly of 
Lindback's potential to develop into an elite
goaltender, "His combination of athleticism, size,
comptitiveness, and ability to contort his body,
makes him an outstanding prospect," Korn said.
"With him playing in Europe I've primarily watched
him from afar the past few years, but his play was
a key reason his team made the playoffs in
Sweden, the bigger the game, the better he got."

Korn did get a chance to work with Lindback
during last summer's Preds Prospect
Development Camp. As for the comparisons to
Rinne, Korn stated, "The reason those comparisons
are so prominent is because of the lean body type,
the tall stature, the late round pick. They have some
similarities in their playing styles, but they also have
some differences." And with Rinne signed for the
next two seasons the Preds don't have to rush
Lindback's development, they have the time to let
him learn and see how quickly he catches on.
--Jay Levin,

However, with this signing the Preds now have four well-regarded goaltending prospects within the organization's developmental system. Mark Dekanich (24) and Chet Pickard (20) spent the season with the Preds AHL affiliate in Milwaukee, while Jeremy Smith (21) won a title with the organization's ECHL affiliate in Cincinnati. Both Pickard, a first round pick by the Preds in 2008, and Smith, a second round pick by the Preds in 2007, made their pro hockey debuts in 2009-10. Dekanich, a second-year pro, was Milwaukee's starting goaltender during the AHL playoffs.

Lindback, who Preds scouts have regularly compared Pekka Rinne, split time with highly touted Swedish goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom (a first round pick by the Florida Panthers in 2008) when the two were Swedish Elite League teammates for Brynas in 2008-09. Last season, Lindback signed on with Timra and flourished in his first full season as a No. 1 starter, earning a spot on Team Sweden for this year's World Championships roster -- along with Markstrom and Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.

Dekanich, a fifth round pick in 2006, flew under the radar in his college career at Colgate. He raised some eyebrows with a successful rookie pro season in '08-09, finishing second in the AHL with a 2.09 goals against average. Last season he increased his workload for the Admirals splitting time with Pickard, but finished the season strong earning AHL Goaltender of the Month honors in February after recording a 5-1-0 record with a 1.07 GAA and .959 save percentage.

Pickard experienced the normal ups-and-downs of a first pro season. From late October through early December he posted an 8-3-2 record with a 1.98 GAA and .926 save percentage, but served as the back-up goaltender to Dekanich during Milwaukee's playoff series. Pickard was also recognized as the No. 26 prospect in The Hockey News Future Watch edition this spring.

Smith also adapted well to the pro game as the season progressed, finishing the regular season 10-5-1 in his last 16 decisions and then adding nine more wins during Cincinnati's playoff run to the ECHL Title.

The competition for playing time among the young goaltenders should help all four. Each will have to earn his chances, starting with strong showings at Rookie Development Camp in July and continuing into Training Camp in September and through the season.
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