The Nashville Predators have announced this morning that they have signed goaltender Miroslav Svoboda to a two-year entry-level contract. The signing of the 23-year old Czech native comes not too long after the Predators had also signed Finnish goaltender Niclas Westerholm to a three-year entry-level contract. With Troy Grosenick under contract for next season it could well be that the 2018-19 goaltending picture for the Milwaukee Admirals has already been set.
Press Release via Nashville Predators:
Nashville, Tenn. (April 26, 2018) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Thursday that the club has signed goaltender Miroslav Svoboda to a two-year, entry-level contract.
Svoboda, 23 (3/7/95), led the Czech Republic’s Extraliga with 33 wins in 2017-18, helping HC Plzen record a league-leading 107 points during the regular season. In his first full-time season in the Czech Republic’s top league, he posted a 2.10 goals-against average and .926 save percentage for HC Plzen, who lost to Kometa Brno – the eventual league champions – in the semifinals.
The 6-foot-3, 176-pound goaltender was originally drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the seventh round (208th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft. He was instrumental in helping HC Dukla Jihlava secure promotion to the Extraliga last season, as he led the Czech second division in save percentage at .944 in 25 games. He appeared in two games for the Czech Republic at the 2015 World Junior Championship, going 1-1 with a .942 save percentage and 1.51 goals-against average.
Who is the latest mystery man? Perhaps the term late-bloomer would be a tad harsh but there is no denying what a solid season he just had with HC Plzen. It was his first full-season in the Czech Extraliga after having competed in the lower levels of the pro scene of the Czech Republic as well as the developmental junior leagues. He finished the season as the Extraliga leader in wins (33) en route to a league leading 107 points for HC Plzen. He also had a 2.10 goals against average and 0.926 save percentage.
What’s also interesting to note here is that Svoboda isn’t an undrafted European talent. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers. The Predators have yet to have a goaltender pan out and make it to the North American pro scene since the 2013 NHL Draft when Juuse Saros was selected. Karel Vejmelka, a Czech goaltender that the Predators selected in the 2015 NHL Draft in the fifth round, is interestingly not the option here while Svoboda and Westerholm are.
The background news to this would appear to be the end of Anders Lindbäck‘s time back in the organization. I say this because you would need to scan back to the 2011-12 season to the last time the Predators had three contracted goaltenders play a significant amount of time at the AHL and ECHL level. This should already go towards bucking that drought.
As for adding Lindbäck to push the goaltending numbers to four underneath the NHL tier? You would have to go to the 2010-11 season to find the last time that happened. It seems greatly unlikely that goes down based on history and a lack of AHL/ECHL spending. It seems very likely now that Grosenick will be next season’s anchor while two prospects battle it out for playing time in the AHL as the other potentially ends up in the ECHL – if the Predators ever eventually announce a new affiliation agreement for the upcoming season.
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