2016 NHL Trade Deadline: Should the Nashville Predators pursue a goaltender?

Is it time to seek help from a netminder outside the organization?

In the most recent edition of the must read 30 Thoughts, Elliote Friedman dropped a little Pred-centric question that has been poked at around Nashville water coolers for a couple months:

12. As Pekka rinne continues to fight the puck, would Nashville consider adding a goalie?

It's been a long time since he was pushed and it might make sense to bring in someone who could do it. Don't think we're talking about anyone with term, but maybe a Jonas Hiller, a Karri Ramo or a James Reimer. They all have starting experience and contracts up at the end of the year.

Rinne is on pace for his lowest save-percentage in any of his full seasons. It's not like missing the playoffs is an option, either.

There's truth in everything there. Rinne, while playing better lately, has not been good this season. Carter Hutton, while playing as well as he ever has in his NHL career, is not a viable starting option -- either down the stretch or in the playoffs.

Now, when looking at a goaltender, there is zero chance the front office is going to panic and try to ship out Rinne. They've hooked their wagon to him and that isn't going to change. Instead, they would either include Hutton in a package going the other way, or put him on waivers in hopes somebody might take a flyer on him. They would be able to bury his entire $725,000 cap hit in the minors.

So, for the sake of argument, let's assume the deal would be to bring in a goalie to be Rinne's safety net, supplanting him as the starter if necessary. Should they do it?

Comparing the two goalies in Nashville's employee against the three options Freidman suggests, it paints a pretty clear picture. Here's their 5v5 data in both raw and visual form:

Sv% AdSv% SA/60 TOI
Rinne 92 91.37 25.60 2137.6
Hutton 91.86 91.58 27.65 373
Reimer 94.17 94.11 31.57 1239.9
Ramo 91.85 91.88 29.13 1767.4
Hiller 90.41 90.83 28.25 730.5

Without question the only clear upgrade in net is Reimer. The current Maple Leaf is having the best season of his professional career, despite seeing 31.57 5v5 shots per 60 minutes. That's nearly six whole shots more than Rinne. He's ninth in the NHL in overall and adjusted save percentage with at least 1,000 minutes, and third overall in 5v5 save percentage. Those are starters numbers, which is where the problem lies for Nashville.

Other than the obvious marketing problems, the front office would be paying a hefty sum to relegate their homegrown, $7 million dollar man to backup duty for an outsider. Or, they'd be paying a hefty sum to have Reimer sitting on the bench while Rinne tries to figure out his problems. Both are lose-lose situations, unless they are really and truly ready to throw the dice for some better goaltending.

Also consider just exactly what that price may be. In 2014 when Ryan Miller was traded from the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres to the playoff hopeful St. Louis Blues, Miller had slightly worse numbers than Reimer does now. It took Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 3rd round pick to pry him and Steve Ott out of New York. Toronto is in a similar position, and their so far shrewd front office can essentially name their price even if Reimer doesn't have the track record Miller did at that point. Not something Nashville should even bother with.

The other options don't inspire much confidence either.

While Ramo would technically be the second best option, it's interesting to note he has almost identical numbers to Hutton despite playing 1400 more minutes. That may be an issue of sample size, and there are plenty that would argue that Hutton's stats wouldn't hold up given a similar workload. The coaching staff seems to agree, since they are mostly reluctant to start him in any situation that isn't a back-to-back.

What's more of a gamble? Giving Hutton more minutes and seeing how be performs or giving the Flames assets for Ramo? This question is probably answered already, since Ramo had to leave Thursday night's game against the Sharks after a collision with Joonas Donskoi. Calgary head coach Bob Hartley said of the injury, "It doesn't look good."

That would leave Jonas Hiller as the last option, and he's been terrible this year.

Nashville would be better off sticking with Rinne and hope his play trends in the direction we've seen since the Canadian road trip. At the very least, Hutton's numbers suggest he might be up to the task of dispelling the Big Guy if needed. But his track record and lack of starts aren't encouraging. The goalie market is never bustling, almost always expensive for a starter, and it's rare that trading for one at the deadline works out.

While Rinne hasn't played well this season, the team's struggles aren't all on his shoulders. There are both systemic and personnel issues plaguing this team and those aren't going to be fixed by bringing in goaltender.

Which goalie should Nashville put behind Rinne for the rest of the season?

Carter Hutton343
James Reimer261
Kari Ramo17
Jonas Hiller29