The moment Pekka Rinne announced his retirement from the NHL, the Nashville Predators gained an additional position of need in an already hectic offseason: backup goalie. David Poile seems to have found his guy in former Calgary Flame and Toronto Maple Leaf David Rittich. The kindred Davids have agreed upon a one-year deal to bring the Czech netminder to the Music City to back up Juuse Saros.
David Rittich to NSH, one year, $1.25M.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 28, 2021
Rittich has been a solid enough, if unspectacular, goalie throughout his career, with occasional streaks of brilliance mixed in often enough to earn him the nickname “Big Save Dave.” Playing behind some defensive units that could be kindly described as “mixed bags,” Rittich was essentially a league average goalie by save percentage and GAA while hovering around the -4.0 mark in GSAx. In a lesser role with increased rest, it’s a reasonable bet that his play will improve. Off the ice, Rittich has been a brilliant person and will be another welcome addition to the Nashville community; be sure to give him a warm reception.
Juuse Saros is coming off of a brilliant 2020-21, but the young goalie has been a slow starter for much of his NHL career. Good on David Poile for providing insurance rather than banking on his immediate success or Connor Ingram’s still-undetermined ability. While the Predators might have been capable of simply replacing Rinne’s production from within, it was a risk, and not one they were willing to take.
Rittich has very explosive speed in net, and he is not afraid to commit to the save and use his larger body to seal up the bottom of the net. However, this can sometimes result in Rittich over-committing to the puck and overplaying his positioning.
When going cross-ice to make saves, Rittich’s strong upper body allows him to keep a good portion of the net covered. Further, Rittich really likes to use his stick to assist in puck-stopping. His glove hand is average. When he flounders to make a save, teams can certainly take advantage of his poor positioning. His size is nice, but he is reliant on it at times.
Rittich is a very good addition at backup. He was once a very solid goalie with the Flames organization, but he’s had a tumultuous few seasons. A fresh start in Nashville for Rittich might be just what the Czech goalie needs.
Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Rittich’s deal is for one year at $1.25 million.
All stats are from hockey-reference.com, Evolving-Hockey.com and NHL.com.