The goaltending scenario that looked ominous for such a long time now has now fully cemented. Brandon Whitney signed an AHL contract to be the Cincinnati Cyclones man for the Milwaukee Admirals. Marek Mazanec signed his one-year contract to stick with the Nashville Predators organization. Juuse Saros signed his entry-level contract to start his North American professional playing career. Which meant only the following would happen. The Predators have traded Magnus Hellberg. The Swede and netminder of the Admirals these last three seasons will be joining the New York Rangers in exchange for a sixth round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Hellberg was the first goaltender selected in the 2011 NHL Draft and was a huge impact player for the Admirals at the end of his rookie season. He just about carried the team on his back en route to securing their playoff berth on the final day of the season: three starts, three days, back-to-back shutouts in the final two games of the season.
The follow-up campaign couldn’t have gone much worse. He was injured in pre-season camp, Mazanec out performed him early in the AHL regular season, he struggled to secure wins, a guy named Scott Darling started winning games in net, Hellberg then picked up a high ankle sprain that sidelined him just when he was gearing up to start games on a regular basis for the first time all season, and then Rob Madore‘s incredible 2014 Kelly Cup Finals MVP run forced him on the bench at the ECHL level for the rest of the season.
This past year was a return to form. He was second choice to Mazanec out of the gate but did well. So well in fact he earned a spot in the AHL All Star Classic. Like the entire Admirals team though his season took a dip and stayed down all the way until reaching the finish. His numbers were still good, massively improved from the previous season, but the team missing the playoffs for the first time in thirteen seasons seems to hang over most sparkling performances by the squad.
The Rangers already have a Swede in net named Henrik Lundqvist. They also shipped out Cam Talbot and added King Henrik’s back-up in the form of Antti Raanta. It would appear that the Hartford Wolf Pack is the new home for Hellberg. There he’ll find competition in Mackenzie Skapski and Cédrick Desjardins.
What is your reaction to the Predators trade of Hellberg? Was this the best they could receive back in exchange? Are they making the correct move by choosing Mazanec over Hellberg or is it safer to say they’ve taken Saros over both?