Mark Dekanich may have finally found his path to the NHL.
The 25-year old Milwaukee Admirals goaltender signed a one-year, one-way contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. The deal guarantees him almost 10 times as much money as he was making in Milwaukee…not a bad weekend for someone who is also getting married on Saturday.
Stuck in an almost impossible situation last season in the Predators organization behind Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback, Dekanich managed to put up extremely impressive numbers during his All Star season in Milwaukee. During the 2010-11 campaign, “Dex” finished 3rd in the AHL in GAA with 2.02 and 1st in save percentage with a 0.931. Until a knee injury ended his season prematurely, he was quite possibly the best goalie in the American Hockey League. In addition, he saw a few games in Nashville and made it into a game against the Kings in which he played 50 minutes of relief.
The Colgate alum had a remarkable bounce back from last season, in which his struggles in net actually forced the Predators to send him to the ECHL for a weekend – a weekend in which he only let in one goal and managed to gather up ECHL player of the week.
“I’ve never been handed anything in my career,” Dekanich said last season. “I’ve always been overlooked and sort of the underdog in a lot of ways and that experience was no exception.”
Playing with a chip on his shoulder, he is probably the hardest worker on any team on which he plays.
While he would never admit it, signing with Columbus was most likely a very calculated decision – Steve Mason is currently the starting goaltender in Columbus, but has struggled mightily since his Calder Trophy year in 2008-2009. Dekanich has the work ethic to become a number one goaltender in the NHL and Steve Mason’s position may be prime for the taking.
It is quite possible that on October 7, when the Predators come to Columbus for the season opener, Mark Dekanich will be making his first career start against the team that drafted him 146th overall in 2006.
Milwaukee Admirals Press Release
MARK DEKANICH HEADED TO COLUMBUS
Former Ads Netminder Holds Multiple Team Records
Milwaukee, WI—On the first day of free agency, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed former Admiral goaltender Mark Dekanich to a one-way contract. The signing ends a record setting three years for the Colgate University alum in Milwaukee.
Dekanich is the team’s all-time leader in both goals against average (2.16) and save percentage (.922) to go along with a 65-38-11 record and nine shutouts, which is fourth in franchise history. He ends his career fifth all-time in wins and sixth in games played (122).
In 2010-11, the North Vancouver, BC native put together arguably the best season in net ever for a Milwaukee goaltender. He finished the year with team records for goals against average (2.02) and save percentage (.931) and also set a franchise mark for the most consecutive minutes without allowing a goal (209:31). He compiled a 23-12-5 record with five shutouts and was selected to play in the 2010 AHL All-Star Classic.
In addition to Dekanich, the Blue Jackets also signed defenseman Aaron Johnson, who notched 35 points (9g-26a) in 72 games for Milwaukee last season.
Columbus Blue Jackets Press Release
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS AGREE TO TERMS WITH GOALTENDERS MARK DEKANICH AND CURTIS SANFORD
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to terms with goaltenders Mark Dekanich and Curtis Sanford on one-year contracts, club Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Scott Howson announced today. Dekanich has signed a one-way NHL contract, while Sanford has agreed to terms on a two-way NHL/American Hockey League deal. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed.
“We believe the addition of both Mark and Curtis has addressed our organization’s needs at the goaltending position,” said Howson.
Dekanich, 25, was one of the top goaltenders in the American Hockey League in 2010-11, posting a 23-12-2 record with a 2.02 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and four shutouts in 43 games with the Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predators’ top affiliate. He led the AHL in save percentage, ranked third in goals-against average and was selected to play in the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic.
Nashville’s third pick, 146th overall, in the 2006 Entry Draft, Dekanich (pronounced deh-KAN-ihch) spent the past three seasons in the Predators organization. He made his NHL debut with Nashville on Dec. 18, 2010 vs. the Los Angeles Kings and stopped 22-of-25 shots in 50 minutes of action. In 122 career AHL games with Milwaukee, he fashioned a 51-44-16 record, 2.25 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and nine shutouts.
A native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Dekanich played four seasons at Colgate University (ECAC) from 2004-08. He went 51-44-16 with a 2.25 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and 11 shutouts in 118 career games, concluding his career as the school’s all-time leader in games played, saves (3,071), save percentage and shutouts. He was a two-time ECAC All-Star Team selection and as a senior in 2007-08 posted a 18-16-6 record, 2.16 goals-against average and six shutouts, setting school single season marks for games played (41), minutes played (2,389), saves (1,043) and shutouts.
Sanford, 32, has compiled a 37-37-11 record, 2.76 goals-against average, .901 save percentage and five shutouts in 108 career NHL games with the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks during his 11-year pro career. He spent seven years in the St. Louis organization and appeared in a career-high 34 games with the Blues in 2005-06, posting a 13-13-5 mark, 2.66 goals-against average, .908 save percentage and three shutouts. The 2007-08 season was the first of two he spent with the Canucks organization. He split the 2008-09 season between Vancouver and the Manitoba Moose, the club’s AHL affiliate. He went 7-3-3 with a 1.73 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and two shutouts in 16 games with Manitoba under current Blue Jackets Head Coach Scott Arniel.
Sanford spent the past two seasons in the Montreal Canadiens organization with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. He earned Second Team AHL All-Star honors after going 22-13-2 with a 1.93 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and five shutouts in 40 games in 2010-11, leading the AHL in goals-against average, ranking second in save percentage and sixth (tied) in shutouts.
Sanford has gone 122-89-22 with a 2.27 goals-against average, .912 save percentage and 23 shutouts in 253 career AHL games. The Owen Sound, Ontario native played four seasons with the Owen Sound Platers of the Ontario Hockey League from 1996-00. He went 65-60-14 with a 4.09 goals-against average and four shutouts in 158 career OHL games.