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The best candidate to back-up Rinne? The retired Kevin Weekes…

He’s a commentator for Hockey Night in Canada, he’s a studio analyst for NHL Network and he’s the best candidate to back-up Pekka Rinne this coming season.

Kevin Weekes has been behind the desk for one year but spent 11 seasons behind the mask in cities like Miami, Vancouver, New York City and East Rutherford. He should add Nashville to that list as the Predators are in need of a veteran back-up goalie and Weekes fits the bill perfectly.

Thanks to Preds On The Glass floating the idea on Twitter last week, we here at find ourselves on board with courting Weekes to Music City.

To ask a retired 35 year old former goalie to return to game shape and become a starter would be asking quite a bit. But, as in this case, asking him to be a back-up to a goaltender like Rinne who thrives on a heavy workload, isn’t out of the question. Weekes is tremendous in the community, he’s a regular contributor to several charities and his veteran presence could prove useful between the pipes if Rinne were to go down with an injury for any length of time.

Kevin Weekes backstopping the New Jersey Devils in 2009.

You don’t want to trust a two week stretch (or *gasp* maybe longer) of the season with a goalie who has yet to play a single minute in the NHL do you?

Weekes would clearly understand (and expect) the number two role. He wouldn’t be one of these current back-ups who are still “just looking for an opportunity” to become a starter. Furthermore, he’s backed up another guy who loved a heavy workload when he was slotted behind the best goaltender of all-time in Martin Brodeur. He could be a mentor to Rinne who, despite his starting gig, is still only 27 years old and has never had a veteran of Weekes’ caliber encouraging him and guiding him while not trying to take his job.

Furthermore, financially he wouldn’t cost much. His price tag would certainly be less than $1 million and, compared to some of the other veteran goalies that are still on the market, that’s a bargain. Take former Washington Capitals goalie José Théodore for example. Not only would he love to be a starter somewhere but he’s sure to command at least $2 million for his services. He made $4.5 million in each of the last two seasons and he was a 30 game winner in each. He’s a two time NHL All-Star, a former Vezina Trophy winner, a former Hart Trophy winner and, if he were to be a starter, is two seasons away from winning 300 games in his career. The guy’s got a resume and his salary demands will reflect that. Weekes, on the other hand, can provide the same veteran presence and the same reliable goaltending for much cheaper and without ulterior motives.

Additionally, there’d be a mutual expectation of a one-year deal. The general consensus is that the goalies in the system are roughly a year away from being ready for back-up work. The best of the four could support Rinne this season but it would be a huge gamble as what would happen if Rinne faltered? What would happen if he tore his ACL and was lost for the season? Nashville would immediately go looking for a goalie to weather the storm but, until a deal could be made (and a deal they would be forced to overpay in) Pred Nation is literally in the pads of a rookie netminder with only one year of professional hockey under his belt.

Could that guy be the next Cam Ward or Ken Dryden or Patrick Roy? Guys that came out of nowhere in their rookie years to lead their clubs to the Stanley Cup? Sure they could. But they could also be the next Kirk McLean or Peter Ing or Vincent Riendeau. And while McLean went onto play in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, his 11-27-3 record in his rookie year of 1987-88 (not to mention his putrid .875 save percentage) left fans in Vancouver wondering why he was there in the first place.

In this scenario, Weekes would come into the season knowing this would be his last tour in the NHL and the Predators would know that they were buying time for the younger guys (Chet Pickard, Jeremy Smith, Anders Lindback, Mark Dekanich, etc.) to be ready in 2011-12.

Look, we know it’s a bit of a fantasy idea. But, if you really think about it, the fantasy kind of makes sense.

SPECIAL THANKS: Rachel Addison designed our “Weekes for back-up” campaign button.

INLAY PHOTO CREDIT: Bruce Bennett // Getty Images