After 11 seasons in the NHL and over 300 games on his resume, Chris Mason is headed to Italy.
That was the word out of Ritten on Tuesday, as the team announced it had signed Mason for the 2013-14 season.
Mason, 37, spent last year in Nashville but struggled as the backup to Pekka Rinne, appearing in 11 games while posting a ghastly 1-7-1 record with an 3.73 GAA and .873 save percentage.
That said, he’s not too far removed from his best days in the NHL.
The Alberta native won 57 games for St. Louis from 2008-10, helping the Blues to a surprise playoff appearance in 2009 (where he posted a .916 save percentage and 2.34 GAA in a first-round loss to Vancouver.)
Following his time with the Blues, Mason bounced from Atlanta to Winnipeg before landing back in Nashville, the club he broke in with during the 1998-99 season.
This will be the second noteworthy European excursion of his career. Mason previously played with Valerenga of the Norwegian league during the 2004-05 lockout, capturing league MVP honors.
Of note, he won’t be the only ex-NHL goalie playing in Italy’s Serie A next year as Andrew Raycroft is currently playing with Hockey Milano Rossoblu.
The New York Islanders have re-signed goalie Kevin Poulin to a one-year, two-way deal, the team announced on Monday.
Poulin, 23, has appeared in 21 games with the Isles since being selected in the fifth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
His career on Long Island started well — he went 4-2-1 with a 2.44 GAA and .924 save percentage in his rookie year — but has flatlined lately. He had an average 2011-12 (2-4-0, 3.04 GAA, .907 save percentage) and an equally mediocre 2013 (1-3, 3.02 GAA, .893 save percentage).
That said, the former QMJHL Victoriaville standout will have a shot to be Evgeni Nabokov’s full-time backup in 2013-14.
With Rick DiPietro gone and Anders Nilsson coming off a so-so year with AHL Bridgeport, the door is open for Poulin to be the full-time No. 2.
That said, GM Garth Snow could opt for a more experienced presence behind Nabokov.
The Islanders aren’t exactly pressed for cap space (approximately $22 million away from the ceiling) and there are a number of veteran goalies still available: Jose Theodore, Chris Mason and Johan Hedberg, to name a few.
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.
The Carolina Hurricanes are in discussions with goalie Dan Ellis about a contract extension, according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer.
Ellis, 32, told Alexander the two parties are “talking back and forth” about a new deal, but made it clear there was no offer on the table.
“[A] holding pattern,” is how Ellis described it, adding that he’d like to return for 2013-14.
The journeyman netminder signed in Carolina last season on a one-year, $800,000 deal, primarily to serve as a veteran backup to starter Cam Ward.
But things changed.
Ward suffered a season-ending knee injury in early March, forcing Ellis into the No. 1 gig. While he wasn’t terrible, the numbers reflect a goalie thrust into a position he probably wasn’t suited for, playing in front of a slumping team.
Ellis went 6-8-2 with a .906 save percentage and 3.13 GAA, occasionally splitting duties with third-stringer Justin Peters.
It’ll be interesting to see if the ‘Canes bring Ellis back. The goaltending market figures to be pretty deep this summer, with the backup (or, potential backup) goaltender market projecting to feature Ray Emery, Jose Theodore, Chris Mason, Mathieu Garon, Jason Labarbera and Anton Khudobin.
Pekka Rinne has been a solid netminder on a bad team this season. At the same time, he took a step backwards after being nominated for the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12.
On Saturday, Predators coach Barry Trotz offered an explanation for Rinne’s decline in 2013 while reporting that Chris Mason will make his second consecutive start.
“He’s had a bit of a nagging thing all year. It just needs to settle down a little bit, and a little bit of reset too. There’s no sense to risk anything,” Trotz told The Tennessean. “We’re going to have some exit meetings. Pekka has to get away and heal a little bit and then we’ll start that process. You need a little time away for a second here.
“He needs to get healthy and then we’ll start that process.”
Injured or not, Rinne is trying to view this season as a learning experience.
“I’m just trying to figure out what you can do better and how you can be more helpful,” Rinne said.
He’s only been credited with 15 wins in 43 games this season, but the Predators have been one of the worst teams offensively in 2013.
“All year, we let him down all year,” Predators captain Shea Weber recently said of Rinne.
The silver lining is that the Predators do have a number of talented youngsters that could take a step forward next season. They also have a fair amount of cap space, should they wish to do something bold over the summer.