The Buffalo Sabres rounded out Dan Bylsma’s coaching staff on Friday, hiring former Chicago Blackhawks goalie development boss Andrew Allen as their new goalie coach.
Allen, 38, replaces the outgoing Arturs Irbe.
A former AHL and ECHL netminder, Allen was with Chicago for the last four seasons, spending the majority of his time tutoring netminders with the club’s AHL affiliate in Rockford. During Allen’s tenure, a number of solid backups rose through the ranks: Carter Hutton (now Pekka Rinne’s No. 2 in Nashville), Antti Raanta (now Henrik Lundqvist’s backup in New York) and Scott Darling (now Corey Crawford’s backup in Chicago).
In Buffalo, Allen will work with newly-acquired starter Robin Lenher and No. 2 Chad Johnson, acquired at last season’s trade deadline.
With this hire, Bylsma’s staff is now complete — Allen will join assistant coaches Terry Murray, Dave Barr and Dan Lambert on the Sabres’ bench.
The Nashville Predators announced that they have signed goaltender Juuse Saros to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Saros, 20, was taken with the 99th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He’s coming off of a strong season in the Finnish league where he posted a 2.14 GAA and .929 save percentage in 47 games with HPK Hameenlinna. That’s after he was 2013-14 Finnish Elite League Rookie of the Year with a 1.76 GAA and .928 save percentage in 44 games.
On the international stage, Saros led Finland to a gold medal in the 2014 World Juniors. He also was Pekka Rinne’s understudy in the 2015 World Championship. That role didn’t lend itself to much playing time, but when he was called into service against Slovakia, he earned a shutout by turning aside 22 shots.
Rather than once again become Rinne’s backup, Saros is more likely to be given a chance to adjust to North American hockey while honing his skills in the minors during the 2015-16 campaign. Nashville already has Carter Hutton inked to a one-way contract, although the 29-year-old goaltender’s deal will expire after the 2015-16 campaign, so if Saros has a strong season then perhaps he’ll be viewed as a serious candidate for the backup job at that time.
The Nashville Predators have brought back one of their young goaltending prospects, re-signing Marek Mazanec to a one-year, two-way deal worth $575,000 at the NHL level.
Mazanec, 23, made his big-league debut during the 2013-14 season in the wake of Pekka Rinne’s hip injury, getting significant minutes in tandem with Carter Hutton. The Czech netminder earned NHL Rookie of the Month honors for November that year and finished with a .902 save percentage and 2.80 GAA, but then spent almost all of this season in AHL Milwaukee with Rinne and Hutton filling the Preds’ No. 1 and 2 spots.
Mazanec did appear in a pair of games for the Preds this season, allowing just four goals on 47 shots.
With Rinne and Hutton both under contract for next season — the latter’s heading into his final year, the former’s locked in through 2019 — Mazanec will probably spend next season as a workhorse in Milwaukee, and on-call for spot duty in Nashville.