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Connor Ingram

The Nashville Predators have had a relatively quiet first two days of free agency, but their latest signing has raised a few eyebrows.

The Predators inked 27-year-old goaltender Kevin Lankinen to a one-year, $1.5 million contract on Thursday, presumably to compete to be Juuse Saros’ backup next season. 

The Finland native spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020. Backing up Marc-Andre Fleury last season, Lankinen started 29 games with eight wins, a 3.50 goals-against average and an .891 save percentage.

In two seasons in Chicago, Lankinen compiled a 25-29-11 record, a 3.23 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage across 66 starts.

Signing another veteran to a league-minimum salary appears to signal the Predators may not be completely sold on Connor Ingram as the team’s No. 2 goalie heading into the 2022-23 season.

Ingram didn't have much on-ice success in either of his two brief runs with the Predators, posting a 1-2-0 record with 3.71 GAA and .879 save percentage in three regular season starts and an 0-3-0 record with a 3.64 GAA and .913 save percentage in three postseason appearances against the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.

Ingram's best moments came in Game 1 of the playoffs when he turned away 30 of 32 shots (.938 save percentage) in relief of David Rittich then followed it up with a 49-save performance in a Game 2 overtime loss to the Avalanche.

While young, Ingram, 25, poses his share of questions. He missed most of the 2020-21 season after entering the NHL’s player assistance program, and he has not shied away from discussing his mental health issues over the last few years.

Lankinen’s arrival may foreshadow the Predators’ trepidation about Ingram’s ability to handle the pressure of an NHL workload. Rookie Yaroslav Askarov, who signed an entry-level contract over the summer, is still likely a season or two away from being NHL-ready, and the Predators don’t currently have any other goaltenders in their pipeline ready to jump to the NHL.

Saros started the most games (67) and played the most minutes (3,931:23) of any goalie last season, and the Predators are surely looking to decrease that kind of a workload for him this year. Lankinen presents an experienced insurance plan — at least for 2022.

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_