The Nashville Predators have just taken the first steps in regards to the goaltending prospects conundrum. Marek Mazanec has just signed a new one-year two-way contract to remain with the organization for the 2015-16 season. The deal is worth $575,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 at the AHL level.
Press Release via Nashville Predators:
Nashville, Tenn. (May 6, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Wednesday that the club has signed goaltender Marek Mazanec (MAIR-ehk muh-ZAN-ehk) to a one-year, two-way contract worth $575,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 at the AHL level for the 2015-16 season.
Mazanec, 23 (7/18/91), played his second full season in North America in 2014-15, posting a 2.26 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage in two appearances with the Predators during the month of January, and an 18-18-9 record with four shutouts, a 2.76 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage in 48 appearances for Nashville’s primary developmental affiliate, the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.
Nashville’s ninth choice, 179th overall (sixth round), in the 2012 Entry Draft, played the fifth-most minutes of any rookie NHL netminder (1,369:32) in 2013-14, appearing in 25 contests for the Predators and being named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for November 2013 after going 5-4-1 with two shutouts, a 2.00 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. The 6-4, 194-pound Mazanec also ranked second among AHL rookie goaltenders, and 10th overall, in point percentage after posting an 18-10-3 record (.629, min. 700 minutes) in 2013-14.
In his final season in the Czech League in 2012-13, he led Plzen to its first title by stopping 48-of-51 shots in a Game Seven double-OT victory in the league final. He ranked fourth in 2013 playoff goals-against average (2.13) and sixth in save percentage (.932), in addition to tying for second in shutouts (2). During the 2012-13 regular season, the Pisek, Czech Republic, native ranked sixth in the Czech Extraliga in goals-against average (2.49).
This now leaves the question as to what the Predators will do with pending restricted free agent Magnus Hellberg as well as if Juuse Saros will sign an entry level contract and make the leap to North America. That’s not to say Mazanec signing instantly pens him as the starting goaltender on opening night for the Milwaukee Admirals 2015-16 season opener or anything. For all we know he could still get moved. Still, it is the first action taken of many possible from the Nashville brass when it comes to the goaltending situation behind Pekka Rinne.
Thoughts on this news? Is this bad news for Hellberg? How will the goaltending shape out in Milwaukee next season?