A couple weeks after signing free agent Jonas Gunnarsson to presumably back-up Juuse Saros in Milwaukee, the Nashville Predators have continued to complete their goaltending puzzle.
Monday morning it was announced that they’ve re-signed Marek Mazanec to a one-year, two-way deal.
Mazanec, 24, split time with Saros as the starter for the Milwaukee Admirals last season but has some NHL time on his resume. Back in 2013-14, Preds starter Pekka Rinne was on the shelf with an E. coli infection in his hip. As a result, back-up Carter Hutton stepped into the Nashville crease and Mazanec — drafted just months earlier — was forced into the back-up role. At one point, Hutton faultered and Head Coach Barry Trotz was forced to give the Pisek, Czech Republic native a shot. He responded by going 5-4-1 and posting a 2.00 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and pitched two shutouts in his 11 games, earning NHL Rookie of the Month honors.
Assuming Hutton leaves via free agency and using logic to promote Mazanec to the NHL back-up position, the road should be paved for Saros to be the full-time starter in Milwaukee. All that said, the two-way part of the deal suggests the Predators want to keep their options open.
We’ll see where all this stands come September.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kristen Jerkins