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Nashville’s depth chart takes shape as Pickard heads to Sweden…

When the Nashville Predators traded Anders Lindback to the Tampa Bay Lightning, their depth chart between the pipes started to take shape. Then, three days later, they signed 2011 second round pick Magnus Hellberg and it got a little clearer. Then, when they signed Chris Mason to back-up Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne, it became even more clear.

Today, it solidified.

Per Kevin Wilson of the Predators media relations staff, Chet Pickard will play with Djurgårdens in Sweden during the 2012-13 season.

Due to Pickard headed overseas (and Atte Engren having already returned to Finland and 2012 seventh round pick Marek Mazanec staying in the Czech Republic), the Predators depth chart in goal looks like this:

Nashville: Pekka Rinne, Chris Mason
Milwaukee: Jeremy Smith, Magnus Hellberg

Baring an unbelievable training camp, Pickard would have been the odd man out once again and probably bound for Cincinnati. Not exactly a desirable place for a former first round pick.

Which prompts another question: with their tremendous history of shrewd draft picks, why can’t the Predators pick goaltenders in the first round? In 1999, they chose Brian Finley sixth overall. He went on to appear in just four NHL games, allowing 13 goals and going 0-2-0.

Pickard came out of junior just as highly touted, if not more so. He was the CHL Goaltender of the Year in 2008, a first round pick that same summer and even won a gold medal at the 2009 World Junior Championships. Since turning pro, however, he has yet to register a save percentage over .900 and has spent the past three seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL and the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.

A season in Sweden may be enough to get his professional career back on track.

Pickard will backstop a Djurgårdens club that features another Preds draft pick: 2012 second rounder Pontus Aberg.


PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Fuqua // Flickr (used with permission)

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