The Nashville Predators have known two elite goalies throughout their franchise’s history. Tomas Vokoun and Pekka Rinne. Rinne was drafted by The Nashville Predators in the 8th round with the 258th pick in the 2004 Draft. He spent his first season on North American ice in the 2005-2006 season where he started for the Milwaukee Admirals playing in 51 games, with 30 wins, 18 losses, 2 ties, 1,451 shots against, 139 goals against, and 2 shutouts.
In 2008, Chris Mason was traded to the St. Louis Blues in favor of Dan Ellis as the starter. This gave Pekka the backup position after just one year with the Admirals. It wasn’t long before Rinne was able to take the job away from Ellis and become more of a work horse as the season went on.
Excluding the lockout year and his injury year, Pekka Rinne roughly started 50 games or more in a season Including the 2011-2012 season where he started 72 games and posted 43 wins, 18 losses, 8 overtime losses, 2,153 shots against,166 goals allowed, a save percentage of .923, and 5 shutouts.
That season was the first of three seasons, 2011, 2012, and 2015, where Pekka was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for the best goaltender in the league. In back to back seasons Pekka Rinne became a wall and helped the Nashville Predators win their first two round-one series ever, against the Ducks and then the Red Wings. In the 2013 season, Rinne had an infection in his hip that kept him out for a majority of that season.
More often than not he has been the reason that we have stayed in most games. Granted his not always at his best and recently with the new offensive regime, he doesn’t have to always be the best player on the ice. Rinne currently owns the team records in career wins with 238 and single season wins with 43. I hope we provide number 35 with a Stanley Cup to his name so we can retire his number into the rafters as the best goaltender in Predators history.
I know there can be countless names of fan favorites that can be added to this list. There is Paul Kariya, Steve Sullivan, Peter Forsberg, Mike Fisher, heck I’d consider the biggest fan favorite of them all in Jordin Tootoo, but these five to me are some of the best of the best who have played for The Nashville Predators.
Hopefully, at some point, the Nashville Predators consider retiring a few numbers.