Pekka Rinne to miss “minimum of 4 weeks,” Preds officially recall Hellberg

Rinne and Hellberg (Sarah Fuqua)

To be field in the “not good” category, the Nashville Predators have announced that starting goaltender and two-time Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne will be on the shelf for a “minimum of four weeks” with a hip scope.

This explains the sudden call up of Milwaukee Admirals goaltender Magnus Hellberg last night.

With Rinne out of the lineup, the Predators have a whopping three NHL games (and just two NHL starts) worth of experience between the pipes. Carter Hutton was signed as a free agent on July 5 in order to back-up Rinne while Hellberg was the team’s first pick (and the first goalie taken) in the 2011 NHL Draft.

This will be Hellberg’s first time seeing regular season NHL ice — even if it’s from the bench — in his career.

In his first season in North America, Hellberg was the sole reason the Milwaukee Admirals made the playoffs last season. February was his best month, posting a 6-1-0 record with two shutouts, a 1.36  GAA and a .950 SV%, prompting the AHL to name him the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month. He followed it up with a solid March and April, going 12-7-0 with a GAA below 1.90 and winning his final four games — posting shutouts in the final two — to propel his club into the Calder Cup Playoffs on the final day of the AHL season.

Hutton looked really good against Winnipeg on Sunday night, stopping 38 of 39 Winnipeg shots en route to his first NHL victory. So, that was a confidence builder but can he sustain that long term? And how long will Rinne be out? And are the Predators comfortable with Hutton for an undetermined amount of time? Despite Poile’s remarks today, does he need to go look for a veteran to buy Rinne time to recover?

Either way, this is not good news in any season, let alone a season following one in which they didn’t make the playoffs.

The official press release of Hellberg’s call-up is below.

***

Nashville, Tenn. (October 24, 2013) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has recalled goaltender Magnus Hellberg (MAG-nuhs HEL-buhrg) from Milwaukee (AHL) under emergency conditions.

Hellberg, 22 (4/4/91), in three starts this season, has posted a 1-2-0 record, a 2.23 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. In his first North American professional season in 2012-13, the Uppsala, Sweden native tied for second among AHL goaltenders in shutouts (6), while ranking fourth in goals-against average (2.14) and save percentage (.924). He also ranked third in 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs goals-against average (1.69) and save percentage (.944).

Nashville’s first choice, 38th overall (second round), in the 2011 Entry Draft, the 6-6, 195-pounder is on Twitter @Mulle45.

The Predators face-off against the Jets tonight at 7 p.m. CT for the second time in less than a week (102.5 FM The Game) in the first of two home games (Saturday, Oct. 26 vs. St. Louis) before departing on a two-week road trip. Tonight is College Night presented by Jack in the Box, show your college ID and receive special “roll back” prices that include either an upper bowl ticket for $15 or a lower bowl ticket and a “College” gold shirt for $30!  Drink specials will be offered through the first intermission. For more information visit nashvillepredators.com or call 615-770-7800.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Fuqua (used with permission)