TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Nashville Predators have signed netminder David Rittich to a one-year contract. The deal is worth $1.25MM, a drop-off of over 50% from Rittich’s previous deal. The netminder hopes the “show me” pact will lead to a more lucrative contract next summer, while the Predators hope the former Flames starter can be an affordable and more importantly effective backup to Juuse Saros in the post-Pekka Rinne era.
Rittich, 28, is not long removed from looking like the long-term starter in Calgary. A well-regarded prospect that blossomed into a competent pro, Rittich seized the Flames starting job in 2018-19 with a .911 save percentage and 2.61 GAA in 45 games – not elite but enough to get the job done. However, when his numbers declined the following season, the Flames decided to sign Jacob Markstrom and Rittich’s future became muddied. A trade to Toronto this season didn’t help his stock, as he struggled in four games with the team. Rittich entered the free agent market as one of more intriguing and unpredictable netminders available.
The Predators watched as a number of other teams with vacancies in net through substantial contracts at goalies, some of whom are older and had worse numbers than Rittich. The team likely believes they got a steal then for Rittich at $1.25MM. If he does return to form, it will be a great deal indeed. If he doesn’t, the team has a great faith in Saros as a workhorse and has a strong fallback option in AHLer Connor Ingram. The deal seems like a win-win from Nashville’s perspective.