“He is arguably the best goalie in the world at his age.” Dont worry, Art Williams has not bought another NHL team. Thats just Nashville Predators GM David Poile describing his five-star goaltending prospect, Brian Finley.
The Preds rewarded Finley with a three-year contract worth just over $6 million and up to over $9 million on Wednesday, two hours before the junior player contract deadline expired. For the next three seasons Finley will make $512,500; $512,500 and $1.025 million. As part of the deal he also recieves a signing bonus worth $1.025 million. The rest of the deal includes several bonuses and performance clauses that make up the contract. The contract’s financial numbers are just over what Preds prospect David Legwand signed at the end of last season.
Finley is expected to back up Tomas Vokoun for about the first week of the season while number one goalie Mike Dunham works out to get back in shape after missing all of training camp over a contract squabble. After the week, Finley will be sent back to Barrie where he will resume his junior career.
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.
The first three roster cuts are complete and the remaining Nashville Predators prospects are entering the most important weekend of their careers. Nashville plays three games in as many nights and the trio of contests will offer the final chance for most prospects to earn roster spots. Here is the second of two reports that will provide updates on all the notable prospects who have participated in the Predators rookie camp and NHL training camp …
Ed Hill (6)
During the Nashville rookie camp, Ed Hill showed that he has the basic tools to be a successful NHL defenseman. He has a solid all-around game and is a smooth skater with good passing ability. He does not have any glaring weaknesses, but he will need to step up his game in the near future. He will return to the Barrie Colts of the OHL this season, where he is a teammate of fellow Predators prospect Brian Finley. If Hill can raise the level of his game over the next couple of years, he could develop into a very good prospect.
Karlis Skrastins (6)
The first three roster cuts are complete and the remaining Nashville Predators prospects are entering the most important weekend of their careers. Nashville plays three games in as many nights and the trio of contests will offer the final chance for most prospects to earn roster spots. Here is the first of two reports that will provide updates on all the notable prospects who have participated in the Predators rookie camp and NHL training camp …
David Legwand (8.5)
Believe it or not, David Legwand is already at a crossroads in his career. After a quiet season in the OHL, Nashville expects Legwand to show the intangibles that he focused on at the expense of his offensive production last year. According to Legwand, his statistics suffered last season because he focused on improving his defense, physical play and faceoff ability. As a continuation of that effort, Legwand spent much of the off-season working with a strength and conditioning coach in Nashville, after the organization made it clear that he needs to add muscle and get stronger.
Legwand will definitely make the Nashville roster this season and will likely play on a checking line to start the year. That would give him an opportunity to prove that his work on the intangibles has been worthwhile. It would also allow him to start his NHL career gradually, much like Joe Thornton and Vincent Lecavalier did with their respective teams. A conservative approach is probably best for Legwand, who is not yet ready to be a star player.
The organizers of this tournament had to be unhappy after the first night
of action. A bench clearing brawl initiated by Ty Jones gave the tournament
a black eye and had to hope for better results during Tuesday night’s games.
Unfortuantly, it went from fight night to blowouts. The Detroit Red Wings
and Chicago Blackhawks were blown right out of the Grand Traverse Bay area
and ended up somewhere across Lake Michigan. Or at least it seemed that
way. If you liked watching teams self-destruct, this was your night.
GAME 3 – Detroit VS. Nashville
On paper, this game looks even. Both teams have a marquee prospect in
Brian Finley and Jiri Fischer. Each lack much depth at forward. But on the
ice it was a much a different story. While the Wings didnt play awful, the
defense rested in stretches. The Predators took the lead 10 seconds into
the game and never looked back, beating the Red Wings 6-3.
The Predators scored three goals in the first and again in the second
period and that was more than enough. The Predators had no real star on
this night but they did have a solid defensive game. Ed Hill, Brett Angel,
and Kent Sauer all had strong defensive efforts. Sauer also added two
assists. Martin Bartek added a goal and an assist leading the offense.
Konstantin Panov also had a strong night, scoring a goal and having several Read more»