The Nashville Predators sent one goaltender away and retained the services of another.
Friday morning David Poile, president of hockey operations/general manager for the Predators, announced that goaltender Chris Mason has been traded to the St. Louis Blues for a fourth-round pick in this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft and that Dan Ellis has signed a two-year contract.
The additional pick gives the Predators nine at this point as the draft begins tonight with the first round at 6 at the ScotiaBank Center in Ottawa, Ontario. The other picks are No. 9 and No. 15 in the first round. No. 40 and No. 46 in the second, No. 76 in the third, No. 106 and No. 111 (from St. Louis) in the fourth, No. 136 in the fifth and No. 166 in the sixth round.
“These transactions had to happen together,” said Poile. “It’s is all about timing and this all came together for us.”
Ellis, who made $550,000 last season, his first in the NHL with the Predators, has agreed on a two-year deal that will pay him $1.5 million for the 2008-2009 season and $2 million for the 2009-2010 season.
“This breaks the logjam of three goaltenders that we had,” said Poile.
Pekka Rinnie is expected to be the back-up to Ellis this season.
“This will be a good challenge for Dan to come into camp as the No. 1 goaltender,” Poile said. “Last year when he first came to training camp he was listed at No. 3 and he eventually beat out everybody.
“Chris had a tougher season than anyone expected him to have last season. Dan has prepared himself for this. Being in the NHL has been his goal. He has won championships on every level. We feel confident that he will continue to succeed.”
Poile said his conversation with Mason about the move was a cordial one. Poile did admit some reservations about trading Mason to the Blues, a fellow member of the Central Division of the Western Conference. He joins forward Paul Kariya, another former Predators player, on the St. Louis roster.
“It is not as if that rivalry needed to have anything added to it, but with Mason and Kariya both there the games will be more interesting for our fans,” said Poile. “It makes me a little nervous to make a deal with a team in our same division.”