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Preds re-sign possible back-up to Rinne in Dekanich…

It wasn’t the veteran goalie signing that Nashville Predators fans were anxiously awaiting but it could very well be the signing that provides Pekka Rinne with a back-up.

The Preds have officially announced that restricted free agent Mark Dekanich has been signed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $550,000 at the NHL level and $75,000 if he’s sent back to the AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals.

The former fifth round pick was the starter in Milwaukee for much of last season, posting a 27-16-4 record. His 2.33 goals-against average was also impressive but he struggled with inconsistency, so much so that he was sent down to the ECHL-affiliate Cincinnati Cyclones for a weekend. In “the ‘Nati” he allowed only one goal in two appearances (on back-to-back nights) and was named the ECHL player of the week. His confidence returned and he was called back up to the Ads, as planned.

In 77 career AHL games, the 24-year old North Vancouver, British Columbia native is 42-26-6 with five shutouts. While he hopes this changes come October, he has never played a single minute of NHL action. Unless a veteran like José Théodore or Kevin Weekes is brought in prior to, there will be a heated battle to back-up Rinne in training camp. The four goalies in the system that have a chance to make their mark in late September (Dekanich, Jeremy Smith, Anders Lindbäck and Chet Pickard) are all in the same boat as far as zero NHL experience. With Rinne thriving on a heavy workload, it could be just the thing to get one of those guys some NHL exposure. The problem, however, lies in the “what if.” What if Rinne gets hurt and is forced to miss action? Do the Predators really want to entrust their team for two weeks (or however long) to a rookie who’s never seen a single NHL puck prior to October 2010? I say nay.

But, either way, Dekanich is now signed, leaving only defenseman Cody Franson and winger Patric Hornqvist as the only key RFA’s not to have inked deals as of yet.

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