Anders Lindback distinguished himself in the Nashville Predators’ training camp by virtue of the fact that he reminded management and the coaching staff of someone else.
At 6-foot-6 and with an athletic style, the 22-year-old Swede draws immediate and constant comparisons to Pekka Rinne, who is 6-foot-5 and entering his second season as the franchise’s No. 1 netminder.
That combined with his performance in practices and preseason games earned Lindback the job as Rinne’s backup when the 2010-11 season opens in a little more than a week. He secured the role Thursday when Mark Dekanich was reassigned to Milwaukee.
“We like all those things about (Lindback) that are like (Rinne) – his size, he has quick legs, the way he seals the ice,” general manager David Poile said. “There are a lot of good things you can say about him.”
A seventh-round pick in the 2008 draft, Lindback spent the last two seasons playing in Sweden’s top division. He signed an entry-level contract in May with the idea that he would play full-time in North America this season.
In one of the deepest positions within the organization, he quickly established himself as the top competitor to Dekanich, who was the No. 1 goalie at Milwaukee (Nashville’s AHL affiliate) in 2009-10 for the job that opened when Dan Ellis left as a free agent.
It was clear that Lindback had the upper hand when he played from start to finish in Nashville’s 4-3 preseason victory at Atlanta on Wednesday.
Now, with one preseason game remaining (11:30 a.m. Sunday at Washington), even Lindback’s stats look like Rinne’s.
Each has appeared in three games (two halves and one whole contest). Rinne has a 1.49 goals-against average with a .938 save percentage. Lindback has a 2.00 GAA with a .925 save percentage.
Dekanich, a fifth-round pick in 2006, appeared in just half of two contests and had a 2.11 GAA with an .857 save percentage.
“I thought (Lindback) played good in every game situation,” Poile said. “He played above average in the third period Wednesday night when we had a one-goal lead and he was under siege a little bit late in the game.”
Poile added that he and his staff had discussions during the offseason about rotating two or more players between the backup role. That idea, for now, at least has been shelved.
“(Rinne) is our No. 1 goalie, and he’s probably going to get about 60 games,” he said. “I don’t think we want him to play 70. That means our backup is going to get 20-25 games, so it’s an important role.
“We all know that things can change fast in this business, and if something happens I wouldn’t have a problem putting Mark Dekanich on our NHL roster. He had a very good training camp. It was a good competition.”