Is your argument that Rinne isn't that good or that you shouldn't spend that much on a goaltender in general?
Both. Rinne had a .930 SV% season, which is great. It's hard to miss the playoffs when your starter does that. He also had a .911 SV% season the year before that, which is not so good. Hard to make the playoffs unless you have a superb offense or defense. And let's not forget that the Nashville shot counter is one of the most egregious overcounters in the NHL - the Nashville shot counter was NOT one of Dan Ellis's problems.
The sentiment the past few seasons seems to be that you don't need high priced goaltending to win in the playoffs, which is somewhat true since it's a total crapshoot most years. Most goalies in the NHL are capable of stealing a game or series so by securing the top tier guys you're really just increasing your odds that they will play well when needed. That being said, goaltending is still hugly important during the regular season (look at Phoenix the last two seasons).
Why is Phoenix the example? Bryzgalov is not that good. There's this delusion that Phoenix isn't good and that Bryzgalov saved their bacon, but they have a lot of good players that people don't know about. Phoenix is a smart organization and decided to sign no real replacement for Bryz. That's because Phoenix backups had the same save percentage as Bryzgalov during Bryz's tenure as a Coyote. Let's see where Phoenix stands at the end of the year.
You need excellent goaltending to win in the playoffs (or a ridiculously good team that can overcome average goaltending). The thing is, you don't know who the excellent goalies are going to be, necessarily. Paying a premium to increase your chances just isn't worth it when there's decent goalies floating around there available to everyone.
The key for Nashville is that they have 3 guys who by all accounts want to stay but are waiting for the others to jump first. So while this may be 1.5 million more than you ideally want to pay a goalie, if it helps them lose the reputation of not being able to afford their own UFAs and lock up Suter and Weber, is it worth it? He's also one of the faces of the franchise at this point. I think Nashville is slowly becoming a really good little hockey market and continuing the string of playoff appearances will do nothing but continue to build on the support they have.
The problem is, as I said, they have no depth. They don't have any top end scorers. They have these two great D, and then they have a black hole. Right now they're a 43% shots team at even strength, both in all situations and with the score tied. The ways to win when you are that far in the hole is A: great goaltending B: shooting above average C: drawing way more penalties than you take and having excellent special teams. I'm not convinced they will continue to get great goaltending, and shooting above average is really hard and generally not sustainable.
Klein and Blum are below 40% for the season. Those two got run out of the building by NJ. If Nashville does have more money to spend, they should deal for a D man yesterday.
As for depth, they do pretty well with the drafting and development. Between Klien, Blum and Ellis, I don't think they have much of a problem on the back end. Every year I watch the draft and wonder why they don't draft a scoring forward, but if they lock up the big 3 and hit on a few forward draft picks, they can make the occational run in the playoffs. Also, teams like the Preds that are always developing good talent will be able to trade for some extra offensive help at the deadline in years they think they have a shot to win after the majority of salary has already been paid. Lindback can probably be used as trade bait for more offense this year with Pickard waiting in the wings.
When's the last time a goalie was traded for something significant? This is both sarcastic and serious, because I know I am blanking on some moron team that dealt a lot for a goalie recently. Oh yeah, Varlamov. That was silly. But in general, they don't draw a big return.
I like what the Predators organization does and I think they're smart. But they are not very good so far this year, and if they lose one of these D for nothing, they're going to have serious problems. You compare them to New Jersey, but New Jersey had some excellent forwards that Nashville just doesn't have and probably won't have.
Edited by Triumph, 04 November 2011 - 08:53 PM.