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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.
Press releases from Milwaukee and Columbus after the jump.