Over the offseason the Nashville Predators waited to hear what Pekka Rinne would decide to do, and he ultimately decided for a well-deserved retirement after a career that has him not only as the franchise’s most iconic player ever, but also Nashville sports history.
The team then signed David Rittich to be the backup to Saros for a modest one-year, S1.25M deal. Basically just a safety net to if Saros gets injured, and the occasional spot start on a back-to-back.
Saros leads the league in shots faced and games played this season. There’s no reason to think his workload is going to diminish anytime soon as the month of February has no back-to-back situations, and two to three days of breaks in between many of the games.
You just have to tready lightly when possibly overworking your starter and wearing them down before you even reach the final weeks of the regular season and playoffs.
Explore the option if you’re the Nashville Predators front office
That’s where the question of pending UFA Rittich comes into mind. Is there a desperate enough team for a goalie out there that would offer the Predators a draft pick or even another promising prospect to add to their system? It would be better than having a veteran former starting goaltender doing nothing but keep the bench warm.
This wouldn’t even be a thought if Connor Ingram wasn’t once again performing at a very high level in the AHL for the Milwaukee Admirals, which brings me to my next point. Ingram is more than ready now to be Saros’ backup, and someone is going to have to get anywhere between five and ten starts in March and April. I’d rather it be Ingram over Rittich.
The last thing you want is a rusty Rittich coming in during crunch time of March and April when playoff seeding and even a playoff spot is on the line. The Nashville Predators are in a comfortable position in the playoff race, but things can still go south in a hurry.
The big risk with trading Rittich that some of you have brought up to me is a valid point, and that is if Saros were to be injured and all you have is Ingram. That would be a potentially catastrophic occurence, but that would be true whether you still have Rittich or not.
There’s always the threat of injury, but you can’t live in what-ifs. If there’s a decent offer from a team that’s desperate for a goaltender, I say you deal Rittich and get something out of him.
You’d be surprised what some teams would offer for a proven veteran goaltender. Not every team is as fortunate at this position as the Predators have been all these years.
Furthermore, Rittich has shown he can be a reliable starter in this league. He’s 67-42-17 for his NHL career, with his best season coming in 2018-19 for the Calgary Flames when he won 27 games and posted a 2.61 GAA. Not groundbreaking numbers by any stretch, but good enough to show he can provide something more for a team thin at the position.
Your typical bad teams like the Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Candiens come to mind as teams with no real answers at goaltender, and could snag them up a quality veteran without having to offer a ton to the Predators.
If this were to happen, I don’t see it happening until March. That would give another full month to let things shape out, and let Ingram get more starts under his belt with the Admirals. I’d keep this option on the table and entertain any offers that might come in from a desperate team.
The Predators might very well get no worthy offers at all and see better fit to just hold onto Rittich and let Ingram finish the year in Milwaukee. All I’m saying is, see if there’s a team or two who gives you a decent offer for a former 20-plus win starter in Rittich.
Rittich is doing you no good other than being an insurance policy for Saros, and even then that’s not a better insurance policy that what you have in Ingram who is going to be your fulltime backup next season anyway.