In what will further round out a pretty solid competition for the backup job behind Pekka Rinne during training camp, the Nashville Predators have signed Mark Dekanich (who was a restricted free agent) to a one-year, two-way contract.
Since Dekanich is not yet eligible for waivers, he could easily be sent back to Milwaukee if the Preds didn't think he was ready for the NHL stage, but the progression of 2008 1st-round draft Chet Pickard likely has him pegged for the #1 job with the Admirals. With Anders Lindback coming over from Sweden and free agents like Jose Theodore and Antti Niemi still seeking NHL jobs, the race for the #2 position in Nashville is still very much up for grabs.
Today's signing has me thinking that internal competition is the more likely course for filling that job than bringing in an outsider like Niemi or Theodore, however. If David Poile were going to sign an outsider, then there would be no need (or room) for Dekanich within the organization. Now, they could conceivably have either Dekanich or Lindback as the NHL backup, one of them in Milwaukee splitting time with Pickard, and Jeremy Smith needing room for development as well.
Atte Engren perhaps getting his North American feet wet with Cincinnati in the ECHL.
Follow after the jump for the team's press release...
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed restricted free-agent goaltender Mark Dekanich to a one-year, two-way contract worth $550,000 at the National Hockey League level and $75,000 at the American Hockey League level.
Dekanich, 24 (5/10/86), has spent both of his professional seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL), ranking fifth among AHL netminders in goals-against average (2.33), tied for fifth in shutouts (4) and tied for eighth in wins (27) during the 2009-10 campaign, his first as a starter. As a rookie in 2008-09, the North Vancouver, B.C., native ranked second in the American League in goals-against average (2.09) and fifth in save percentage (.923), allowing two goals or fewer in 24 of his 30 games played in 2008-09.
The 6-3, 190-pound Dekanich spent four seasons at Colgate University from 2004-08, finishing his collegiate career as the school's all-time leader in games played (118), saves (3,071), save percentage (.923) and shutouts (11). He was Nashville's third choice, 146th overall (fifth round), in the 2006 Entry Draft.