The big fellow from Pisek, Czech Republic signed his name on the line for David Poile and will play a part in the Preds' goaltending situation for a while longer. Marek Mazanec, the 24 year-old who has spent the majority of his time in Milwaukee and split time last year with Juuse Saros, will likely be the understudy to Pekka Rinne next year.
The term: 1 year, two-way contract paying $575,000 at the NHL level. Here's the release from 501 Broadway:
Nashville, Tenn. (June 13, 2016) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed goaltender Marek Mazanec (MAIR-ehk muh-ZAN-ehk) to a one-year, two-way contract worth $575,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 at the AHL level for the 2016-17 season.
Mazanec, 24 (7/18/91), tied for 12th among AHL netminders in goals-against average (2.45), tied for 14th in wins (19) and tied for sixth in shutouts (4) with Milwaukee during the 2015-16 campaign, his third season in North America. In 27 career NHL contests since 2013-14, the 6-4, 202-pound native of Pisek, Czech Republic has posted an 8-11-4 record with a 2.77 goals-against average, a .902 save percentage and two shutouts in 27 appearances. Mazanec played the fifth-most minutes of any rookie NHL goaltender (1,369:32) in 2013-14, appearing in 25 contests for the Predators and being named the NHL's Rookie of the Month for November 2013 after going 5-4-1 with two shutouts, a 2.00 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.
In his final season in the Czech League in 2012-13, Nashville's ninth choice, 179th overall (sixth round), in the 2012 Entry Draft led Plzen to its first title by stopping 48-of-51 shots in a Game Seven double-OT victory in the league final. He ranked fourth in 2013 playoff goals-against average (2.13) and sixth in save percentage (.932), in addition to tying for second in shutouts (2). During the 2012-13 regular season, Mazanec ranked sixth in the Czech Extraliga in goals-against average (2.49).
This move represents a few factors. It means the team may be confident enough in Saros to handle an increased role in Milwaukee (depending on how they feel about Jonas Gunnarsson) without Maz there to split the time. It also means that they either want to see if Maz can click at the NHL level enough to warrant being labelled "the backup of the foreseeable future", or they can increase his trade value after a year or two. There are a few teams that historically have trouble developing goaltenders, and a large goalie prospect from the Nashville system may have some value if he can prove it at the NHL level. It's worked before with Anders Lindback.
Mazanec may not have the upside that Saros has, but he could develop into a competent NHL goalie. And that's all perfectly fine. Preds fans should hope that the coaching staff has enough faith in him to take some of the pressure and workload off of Pekka Rinne. That's the mission of the 2016-17 backup goalie.
What are your thoughts on this re-signing?