Nashville Predators: Will this be Pekka Rinne’s final year in Nashville?

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Over the past 10 seasons, Pekka Rinne has been one of the most reliable goaltenders in the NHL, but, with his contract set to expire and a young stud ready to take his place, will the 2018-2019 campaign be the 35-year old’s last year with the Predators?

A decade ago today, the Nashville Predators were preparing for their 2008-2009 season opener against the St. Louis Blues. The teams roster included noteworthy players such as JP Dumont and Shea Weber, with Dan Ellis being named the teams starting goalie after a stellar 2007 campaign season we have likely all forgotten ever occurred.

Also featured on this Predators’ roster was a 25-year old Pekka Rinne, whom had played in only 3 NHL games up this point in his career.

Throughout the year, Ellis failed to regain his consistent form that saw him lead the league in save percentage the year prior, and by February of the aforementioned season, Rinne had taken over as the Preds top net-minder.

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After posting a .917 save percentage and playing in over 50 games as a rookie, Rinne has been named the Predators starter in each of the last 9 seasons. This makes him the ssecond-longesttenured starting goalie by a single team in the league; behind only Henrik Lundqvist.

Additionally, Rinne is the Predators all-time leader in literally every major goalie category and since 2009 he is third among all NHL goalies in  both overall shutouts and wins.

Further, in his time with Nashville, Rinne, has quietly been one of the most dominant back-stoppers in the NHL, finishing with at least 30-wins seven times and winning his first Vezina trophy last year.

Typically, one would figure the caliber of Rinne’s play both recently and throughout his career would grant him stability as a Franchise goalie, yet, through two games so far this year, the 35-year old has been forced to split ice-time with another promising Finnish goaltender, Juuse Saros.

Before the season began, coach Peter Laviolette did note that he would be looking to give Saros a reasonable workload, a claim he once again reitrated to reporters following the Predators 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night,

“”This is gonna happen this year.., Juuse is a great goalie. He’s going to play”

Although Saros may not immediately jump into the teams starting role given the success of Rinne, fans may wonder what the future holds for Pekka due to the current status of his contract.

Currently, Rinne holds a 7$million cap-hit, but, he is in the final year of his current deal and would need to re-negotiate with the Predators this upcoming summer.

Unfortunately for lovers of #35, Nashville may not be able to afford his services beyond this campaign as most of their spare finances will likely go towards keeping their defensive core of PK Subban, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, and Roman Josi intact.

In the most rewarding scenario, management may vie to trade Rinne after the all-star break in order to assure they do receive some compensation for their star goalie. At this time, Saros will surely be named the teams starter moving forward.

Across his career thus far, Saros has posted a 22-14-10 record, with an impressive .923 save percentage and 4 shutouts.

Building off this, at every level the 23-year old has played so far, he has never had a goals against average higher than 2.44 or a save percentage below .920 in a single season where he started at least 15 games for his team.

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Moving forward, Juuse Saros is destined to become the face of Nashville goaltending, however, Pekka Rinne has showed absolutely no signs of slowing down just yet. Whether or not the veteran goalie returns to Nashville after this year is yet to be determined, but as Ryan Ellis suggested in his piece for the PlayersTribune  last spring, the persona of Pekka Rinne and the #35 will always be remembered in Nashville Predators history.