Tag: Magnus Hellberg

Magnus Hellberg

Report: Predators call up goalie Hellberg

According to a report from Fox 6 in Milwaukee, the Nashville Predators have called up goalie Magnus Hellberg. While he’s got one of the best current names in hockey, the big question now is: Who is hurt for the Preds?

Josh Cooper of The Tennessean wonders the same thing and suspects there may be concerns with starter Pekka Rinne.

It’s unclear to as why Hellberg, a 2011 second round draft pick, is coming to Nashville, but one has to wonder if it has to do with goaltender Pekka Rinne and his hip. Rinne underwent a hip arthroscopy in the offseason, and didn’t play a full game game until the regular season started almost three weeks ago.

Backup goalie Carter Hutton practiced yesterday and was victorious on Sunday in Winnipeg. Rinne was a hard-luck loser against Minnesota on Tuesday night stopping 27 of 28 shots in a 2-0 Wild win.

Rinne signed a seven-year, $49 million extension in November 2011 to stay in Nashville as their franchise goaltender.

Update (10:21 a.m. ET): Rinne’s agent, Jay Grossman, shared this via Twitter:

Cue up the foreboding music, Preds fans.

Predators sign 2011 second-round pick goalie Magnus Hellberg

Magnus Hellberg
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When the Nashville Predators dealt Anders Lindback to the Tampa Bay Lightning last week, they did so knowing full well they had the depth to replace him.

Nashville signed 2011 second-round pick Magnus Hellberg to his three-year, entry-level deal and will likely see him challenge for the right to backup Pekka Rinne next season. Hellberg will have to contend with Jeremy Smith in camp as well as anyone the Preds may sign as a potential veteran backup.

Hellberg led the Swedish Junior League in save percentage, goals-against average, and shutouts last season so his record speaks for itself. Now he’ll come to North America with a chance to prove his worth on a much larger stage for a team that’s in flux this offseason.

The Preds have had success going with relatively unknown Swedes in a backup role already with Lindback doing his part the last two seasons. If Hellberg can do the same right away, Nashville will be more than pleased.

Magnus Hellberg was the first goalie drafted in 2011 (by Nashville in Round 2)

Pekka Rinne, Anders Lindback

For many decades, it was very rare to see a goalie drafted early in the first round. Whether you attribute that to the mere fact that goalies make up a small portion of a typical NHL roster (two to three goalies compared to at least 12 forwards and at least six defensemen) or the notion that netminders are tough nuts to crack, the hesitation to make big gambles on the important position was palpable for quite some time.

The last couple decades ushered in a new era in which teams seemed more willing to roll the dice with high-end picks in net. The Dallas Stars surprised many by picking cocky American goalie Jack Campbell with the 11th overall pick in 2010. The Nashville Predators opted to draft Chet Pickard with the 18th pick in ’08. Plenty of other goalies went much earlier in previous drafts.*

That being said, it’s possible that the trend is moving back in the other direction a bit. In three of the last five years, a goalie hasn’t been drafted in the first round. (To be fair, the New York Islanders made Mikko Koskinen the first pick of the second round in 2009, but it still doesn’t count.)

The Nashville Predators became the first team to draft a goalie in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, taking Magnus Hellberg in the second round (38th overall). The second round did open the goalie floodgates turn on the goalie faucet a bit, though, as the Anaheim Ducks chose John Gibson one pick later at No. 39 while the Los Angeles Kings made Christopher Gibson the 49th pick. (Click here for a full list of the 2011 draft results.)

The Predators’ decision to draft Hellberg surprised some because the two Gibson goalies (no relation) were higher-ranked netminding prospects. Mike Morreale points out that Central Scouting didn’t even name Hellberg as the top European goalie, either.

Still, Nashville scout Lucas Bergman apparently saw glimpses of their top two goalies (Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback, both featured in this post’s main image) in Hellberg.

“We’ve had success Pekka (Rinne) and (Anders) Lindback here and I see a lot of similarities with those two goalies and Hellberg’s game as far as size, athleticism and ability to read the game and mental state … definitely,” Bergman said. “In my book, I saw a separation between Hellberg and those two (North American goalies). Magnus, in our eyes, is the top goalie in this draft with a separation.”

It seems like perceived NHL-readiness might also be one of the factors that enticed the Predators.

Hellberg just recently signed a two-year deal with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League and will likely join the team, which also happens to be in his hometown, next season.

“I just moved there so my focus is to play with Frolunda, but if (Nashville) wants me to come over we’ll talk about what is best for my development,” Hellberg said.

Bergman likes the fact Hellberg is an older goalie (he was born in 1991).

“He’s an older kid in the draft and played senior hockey last year,” he said. “His maturity … I don’t think he’s that far away. I don’t see any reason to rush him but maturity wise, he’s not far off.”

Some might view the Predators’ decision to draft Hellberg instead of the Gibsons (or a skater) as “far off” but we’ll eventually learn if they found themselves another useful goalie as the years go by.

* Here are a few quick examples: Carey Price (fifth overall by Montreal in 2005), Al Montoya (sixth overall by the Rangers in 04), Marc-Andre Fleury (first overall by Pittsburgh in ’03), Kari Lehtonen (second overall by Atlanta in ’02), Rick DiPietro (first overall by the Islanders in ’00) and Roberto Luongo (fourth overall by the Islanders in ’97).