David Poile thinks this was a good time for the Nashville Predators to trade for a veteran goalie. Just not the best time.
That would have been roughly six weeks ago when Pekka Rinne, out with a staph infection, had missed a month and showed no signs that he was anywhere near a return to action. It finally happened Wednesday, though, when Nashville acquired 27-year-old Devan Dubnyk in a trade the Edmonton Oilers.
“Would I like to have done it earlier? Absolutely,” Poile said. “But there was nothing that became available. When it became apparent that Pekka was going to be out for more than a couple of weeks we’ve been knocking on doors and there was really nothing out there that was available to us.
“In Edmonton’s case, they weren’t going to trade Dubnyk until they had a replacement and it wasn’t until [Wednesday] that that happened.”
In a separate deal Wednesday, the Oilers got 27-year-old Ben Scrivens from Los Angeles.
The Predators gave up veteran forward Matt Hendricks to get a player who has a 2.88 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in 171 career NHL appearances.
Dubnyk, a first-round pick (14th overall) in 2004, is in the final year of a contract that will pay him $3.75 million this season and is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. As such, he has until the end of the season or until Rinne returns – whichever comes first – to audition for a franchise that started this season with an NHL backup (Carter Hutton) that had one game of NHL experience and two AHL netminders (Marek Mazanec and Magnus Hellberg) who never had played an NHL game.
“I really believe Pekka is coming back,” Poile said. “I really do and I think he’s on his way. I don’t know the date for that. Having said that, if there was any setback in any way, shape or form I think we’ve clearly got ourselves an insurance policy. … If you want to think worst-case-scenario, [Dubnyk] is a No. 1. If you want to think that he could be part of a package for a 1-2 combination next year, maybe we’re getting a head start on that. I think there’s a lot of good reasons we made the deal [Wednesday].”
Hutton and Mazenec have combined to start the 38 games since Rinne was sidelined by post-surgical complications. At the time he went out (10 games into the season), the Predators were one game above .500 and averaged. 2.20 goals against. Following Tuesday’s victory over Calgary they were one game below .500 and averaged 2.88 goals against.
Nashville is next-to-last in the Central Division as it prepares for a Thursday game at Philadelphia (6 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee). All three goalies will be on the roster and available to play at that time, but either Mazanec or Hutton (both are on two-way contracts) will be reassigned to Milwaukee on Friday.
“This has been somewhat of a struggle without Pekka this year,” Poile said. “I think Hutton and Mazanec have done a good job but I think Dubnyk gives us a chance to be a little bit better. [We’re] going with a guy that has clearly had a lot more experience, clearly been a No. 1 and has won a lot of big games in his career.
“So it’s a chance – if you will – it’s an opportunity – if you will – to try to improve our hockey club at this time.”
If only they could have done it sooner.
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS