Nashville Has a Goaltender Problem
The starter is not a mystery. His backup certainly is.
Juuse Saros is Nashville’s starting goaltender. That’s clear, undisputed, and pretty obvious. The first-time Vezina Trophy nominee finished third in last summer’s voting, and his outstanding regular season performance should not go unnoticed. However, an untimely injury meant that Saros was sidelined when the Predators needed him most - the playoffs.
When David Rittich proved unable to stop pucks, Connor Ingram was sent in and performed fairly well for a rookie goaltender playing against the League’s juggernauts.
Then, the summer arrived. the weather was great, the sun shone down on offseason training, and Nashville signed Finnish goalie Kevin Lankinen to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.
Many of us wonder where this leaves Connor Ingram. The young goalie has been a workhorse in net for the Milwaukee Admirals, and he’s worth much, much more than what Nashville paid for him (a 7th round pick). Ingram isn’t massive, but he’s a great option at a 1B netminder for a NHL team. We don’t know what that might look like because we’ve only seen him in gold a handful of times. It was widely expected that 2021-2022 would be the season in which Ingram made the full-time leap to Nashville to back up Saros. Lankinen is an insurance policy, but his presence makes life a little difficult for Ingram.
Ingram, Saros, and Lankinen are all currently with the Predators in Prague, prepping for the Global Series games against the San Jose Sharks. Nashville was allowed to take 27 players to Bern and Prague.
The #Preds have announced the team’s roster for the 2022 NHL Global Series, which includes its first two games of the 2022-23 regular season. https://t.co/ilKYexaKu5— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) October 1, 2022
With Lankinen starting against SC Bern on Monday, I’d wonder if Ingram will get a game against the Sharks. Might a start go to Juuse Saros and another to Kevin Lankinen? I’m not sure, and it’s tough to predict what the Preds coaching staff might do. There’s lots of variables, but in my opinion, it feels like some of these variables might see Ingram back with the Admirals in Milwaukee.
It’s a little clogged in Nashville’s goaltending pipeline. In Milwaukee, we have Tomas Vomacka, Devin Cooley, and Yaroslav Askarov. Which of these three will play for the Admirals? Who will join another AHL or ECHL team on a loan? Adding Ingram to the mix further complicates things, but that’s assuming that Ingram clears waivers when the Predators return to Nashville. If I’m another NHL club, I’d be jumping for joy at the chance to snag Ingram from Nashville on the waiver wire. Yes, I’m looking at you, Ottawa/Toronto/Dallas (and more)!
Perhaps the Predators put Ingram on display in one of these opening games against the Sharks. Ingram had a “cup of coffee” with Nashville last season, and his playoffs were basically a trial by fire. He caught the attention of the national hockey media for his work in Game 3 at home, and Ingram is a goalie a lot of clubs might like to poach. If Ingram plays in Prague, could Nashville be shopping him?
The likelihood of Ingram sneaking through waivers to return to Milwaukee is very slim. Ingram returning to Milwaukee might be a dream scenario for those of us who want to see Ingram-Askarov in net, but I picture NHL GMs anticipating Ingram hitting the waiver wire. The smart move would be to trade Ingram and get a return, even if it’s mid-round picks. There’s plenty of clubs who need a serviceable goalie with picks or even young assets to give away.
I’m not pretending to be able to see the future for Ingram in Nashville, but it does not seem like there’s a way for Ingram to be able to stay in the organization.
Tell me, Preds fans...what happens?
What happens to Connor Ingram?
|Poached from waiver wire||81|
|Nashville hides him in the bowels of Bridgestone and hopes no one notices||28|