Despite rumors that the team would move on from Marek Mazanec this year and him even clearing waivers earlier this month, Craig Morgan of AZ Sports reports that the Nashville Predators have inked the restricted free agent goaltender to a one-year, two-way $650K contract. Mazanec was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 27th, but will avoid it with his new contract.
Armed with the knowledge that no other team would take a chance on him and the upcoming hearing, the Predators were able to bring back a depth goaltender on the minimum contract. Though Mazanec has fallen well behind Juuse Saros as the potential backup for Pekka Rinne next year and a possible future starter, he does have 31 games of NHL experience and a fine track record in the AHL. To get that one a two-way deal is excellent, as they’ll have to pay Mazanec just $100K next year in the minors.
It’s interesting to see where Mazanec will fit in exactly, as the team also added both Anders Lindback and Matt O’Connor in free agency this year. All three will have to find playing time somewhere in the minor leagues, unless a move is made to deal one of them elsewhere. A loan to another AHL club is another option.
The Predators now have just Ryan Johansen, Austin Watson and Viktor Arvidsson to worry about as restricted free agents, the latter of which has his hearing scheduled for Saturday after exchanging figures this morning with the club. With almost $19MM in cap space left, they should be able to easily fit the last three into their system.