Lankinen the new backup to Saros
The modest one-year, $1.5 million addition of Kevin Lankinen to back-up Juuse Saros in net was one that surprised many. I fully expected Connor Ingram to be next in line to be the backup, especially after how he played in the first round of the playoffs against the Colorado Avalanche.
Be that as it may, Lankinen is a player that’s still very young and looking to prove he’s a franchise goaltender somewhere. Definintely not in Nashville, but eventually somewhere else. Much like last offseason with David Rittich, think of this one year deal with Lankinen as a tryout for his future team.
Lankinen enjoyed some moderate individual success racking up 37 starts for the Chicago Blackhawks and posting a commedable .909 save percentage. He was 13th in the Calder Trophy voting.
However, Lankinen’s numbers dipped considerably last season for a horrendous team playing in front of him. I do think he’s a modest improvement to Rittich, and he should be able to take some of the pressure off of Saros so he’s not having to start 67 games, which led the NHL.
A strong season from Lankinen as Saros’ backup will lead him to getting another chance as a team’s primary starter after this one-year deal. He could even entice the Predators to keep him around past this season, although that seems pretty unlikely.
I’m not crazy about the revolving door of backups to Saros, but I’m willing to take a flyer on Lankinen this season and see if he can provide stability to a team that didn’t have it with Rittich. This is all to bridge us to when Yaroslav Askarov eventually arrives, and if Ingram eventually gets called back up.