What a difference a day makes. As of Monday morning, standout prospect Brian Finley had a legitimate chance to beat out Corey Hirsch for the backup goaltending job in Nashville and defenseman Richard Lintner was just settling in for another season with the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL. By the end of the day, Finley was facing a certain trip back to the junior ranks, while Lintner had a return ticket to the Predators and a roster spot for the coming season.
Finley can only blame himself for the sudden turnaround in his status. It may have been his outstanding performance during the preseason that pressured veteran goaltender Mike Dunham into finally signing a new contract and thus eliminating the need for a backup goaltender behind would-be starter Tomas Vokoun. At the very least, Finley’s strong showing gave the Predators more leverage in negotiations. He capped the preseason by shutting out the Florida Panthers on 18 shots during a half-game outing in the final exhibition game. The impressive effort improved his preseason goals against average to 1.62 and his save percentage to .929. Despite those numbers, Finley will now be returned to the Barrie Colts of the OHL, where Nashville hopes he can continue to elevate his game.
Lintner can thank veteran minor leaguer Richard Brennan for his new opportunity as an NHL defenseman. Brennan was invited to training camp as an unsigned free agent and was one of the best defensemen in camp. He won a roster spot on the team, but was left exposed in the NHL waiver draft, in order to protect other players in the organization. Although they hoped that Brennan would sneak through, the Predators were not surprised when the Los Angeles Kings selected him on Monday. The loss of Brennan opened up a slot on the Nashville blueline and the Predators promptly recalled Lintner from Milwaukee. He will probably be used in a defensive rotation at first, but if he can carry his preseaon performance into the regular season, Lintner might eventually become a steady NHL defenseman.