The Predators and Lightning combined to throw a spanner into the works of many a pending free agent goalie. Anders Lindback the six and a half foot former understudy to Vezina nominee Pekka Rinne is the centerpiece of a deal that will likely see him getting the lions share of crease time behind his equally tall countryman Victor Hedman. Some other pieces moved, but Lindback was essentially swapped for two second round picks in this years draft.
I’m not sure this trade answers any questions for anyone. Lindback has a total of 28 NHL start on his resume. On top of that he has four AHL games played. Yes, his numbers are quite good in his limited time in an NHL crease. Both seasons he appeared had a sv% in the nine and teens. But that’s still not saying much. Further he’s got an RFA contract that expires on July 15. While the offer sheet is essentially a dead letter in the NHL, we have seen it used and he could generate one as easily as any other RFA on the table. I’m curious as to if this is the last deal we will see from Yzerman on the crease crusader front.
For the Nashville Predators this doesn’t solve any problems, except maybe getting out of acrimonious contract negotiations. It also leaves them without a backup with any NHL experience. Chet Pickard and Jeremy Smith are both young prospects with limited AHL experience. Sebastian Caron is a complete enigma. He’s been back and forth across the pond his entire career. Worse still, his NHL experience isn’t going to fill anyone with confidence even behind the Predators defense. As for the draft picks, they are not much help. The Predators need a better class of two way forwards who can play 200 feet of ice and get to 20 goals or more a season. This years draft class doesn’t look to have many twenty goal scorers even in the first round. In the second the chances are going to be slimmer. It’s been since 2008-9 that the Predators had even three players cross the twenty goal mark.
On balance, both teams bought so faith but no facts. Draft picks are nice in theory, but don’t always pan out. A goaltender with limited NHL experience who’s gonna have to adjust to a new system especially one as different from Nashville’s as Tampa Bay’s is, will go through some growing pains. Those growing pains could last a year or more. That year could see the Lightning finish even lower than they did this year.