Chris Mason occasionally sports a breathtaking beard, but his netminding was downright hairy during the 2013 season.
With that in mind, Nashville Predators GM David Poile told the Tennessean that the team will look for a different backup behind $7 million starter Pekka Rinne for the 2013-14 campaign.
(More precisely, Poile said the team “might, maybe and in all probability will be looking to see what’s available,” which is a very David Poile way of saying such things.)
Rinne’s first season as one of the NHL’s richest netminders was disappointing, with a 15-16-8 record and a .910 save percentage (compared to his .920 career average). Still, his numbers look fantastic compared to Mason’s 1-7-1 record and abysmal .878 save percentage.
Those stats make it tough to fathom the 37-year-old playing in the NHL next season, but at minimum, he probably won’t be with the Predators.
The crop of backups isn’t too promising, with Jose Theodore, Mathieu Garon, Ray Emery and Nikolai Khabibulin among the most notable potential targets.
Nashville might also turn to 22-year-old prospect Magnus Hellberg, although Poile said he’d rather give the big Swede another year to develop.
“That’s another thing we’re talking about within our organization too, is whether he’s had enough experience yet,” Poile said. “I think our druthers would be to see him play another full year down there (in Milwaukee) in terms of his development.”
Odds are high that the new guy’s numbers will look better either way, although few could top his facial hair.
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It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.