The Nashville Predators have made a long-term commitment to their rock in net, Pekka Rinne.
GM David Poile signed him to a 7-year extension worth 49 million dollars, for a cool cap hit of $7M. That’s the highest for a goaltender in the NHL, which makes sense – he legitimately might be the best one in the League.
The press release the Predators put out shares some numbers to back that up (excuse the long block – he did a lot of really good things last season):
Rinne, who is celebrating his 29th birthday today (11/3/82), finished second in voting for the 2011 Vezina Trophy and fourth in voting for the 2011 Hart Trophy, in addition to being named to the 2010-11 NHL Second All-Star Team. Rinne ranked second among NHL netminders in save percentage (.930), third in goals-against average (2.12) and tied for sixth in shutouts (6) in 2010-11, with the save percentage and goals-against average numbers setting franchise records. During the 2011 Playoffs, he led the Predators to their first-ever series victory in the Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Anaheim, then posted a franchise-record for goals-against average in a series (1.94) along with a .932 save percentage in the Western Conference Semifinals against Vancouver.
The Predators aren’t giving Rinne this money and giving up on keeping their other key pieces either. Here’s what Poile had to say about that:
“Today’s signing is further evidence of our ownership’s commitment to keeping our core intact,” Poile said. “This is the first step of a process designed to retain our key players and leaders.”
Pretty black-and-white, I’d say. He intends to keep cornerstones Shea Weber and Ryan Suter around as well. They have to if they hope to stay competitive.
The only risk with this whole deal, (as Wysh over at Puck Daddy points out), is that for other NHL teams, long term goaltender contracts can sometimes end up handcuffing a team and leaving them wondering what they were thinking.
You hate to be in a situation (as my Islanders are) where you’re forced to give a mid-level goaltender chance after chance after chance after chance whether they deserve it or not, just because you’re tied to him (for what feels like AN ETERNITY).
Even in Vancouver’s case with Roberto Luongo, it doesn’t matter how much better Cory Schneider plays than Lu – because of Lu’s deal, they have to bury Schneider on the bench. You’re no longer free to make decisions, you just count on the guy you paid to stay motivated and keep succeeding. Otherwise….you’re SOL.
Goaltenders are more vulnerable to big swings in their play – confidence is a huge part of the position, and once you start to fall off, sometimes it can take a long time on the way down before you hit rock bottom and start to improve. And, 7 years is a long time. You never know what can happen.
With all of those caveats out of the way, I think if you’re in Nashville’s shoes, you have to give Rinne that deal. He’s too good a goalie, and too big of a puzzle piece to let walk when he becomes a free agent this summer.
And whether you like giving goalies big money or not, he got paid about right when you consider the other tenders making around what he is (Ward, Bryzgalov, Lundqvist, Luongo).
So, you do what you have to do, and give him the term he wants, and give him the money he wants. If seven million dollar goalies are a thing that exists, then he certainly is one. Nashville keeps a huge piece of their team where they want him, and for that, fans should be thankful.