What Pekka Rinne’s new contract means for the future of the Nashville Predators
by Thomas Sarver
On November 3rd, Pekka Rinne signed a two year contract worth $10 million dollars. Now that has some major implications on the future of the team, but first lets talk about the contract.
A step down from the massive 7 by 7 contract that Pekka signed to remain with the team after the 2011-2012 season, Pekka’s new contract which is front loaded, will pay $6 million the first year and then $4 million in the second year. Much like the last contract though, Rinne has a modified no trade clause and a no movement clause, which will keep him from being moved if his play drops off.
Now for the implications that this deal will have on the future of the franchise. This season was expected to be a sad one for Smashvilians in the sense that it was a season where a lot of fans expected there to be regression in Pekka’s game, but to the pleasure of most fans, Pekka is still performing at a Veznia trophy caliber, and Juuse Saros is also performing at a high level. This allows the Preds to unleash a two headed beast in the net with Pekka taking on the roll of a 1A and Juuse taking on the role of a 1B. Now if this sounds somewhat familiar, it may be because of the recent success of another team that instilled a 1A and 1B goaltending approach, The Pittsburgh Penguins. From 2015-2017 the Penguins enjoyed a lot of success due to the fact that they had two proficient net minders. When one got cold, the other got hot and that keeps a team from losing too many games. In Nashville however the situation is a little more different than it was in Pittsburgh. That is because of how different Juuse and Pekka play. A large reason for the variance in play is strictly based on the size difference, Pekka is one of the tallest goalies in the game whereas Juuse is one of the smallest, and because of that each goalie has to be approached differently.
Another effect that resigning Pekka has is that it gives Juuse more time to work his way into the full time starter. One of the worst things a team can do is put a player in a big role before they are ready, especially if that player is a goalie in the NHL. Not only does Pekka staying give Juuse more time, but it gives Juuse a franchise great to learn from. For instance, like a younger Pekka, Saros is extremely aggressive at times. Especially on shots that come from the wing, Saros will come out further to increase the amount of net covered by his body. The only problem with this is that it makes rebound control all that much harder. When you compare that to some of the changes Pekka has made with his body positioning, it allows Pekka to stay active with his hands, but he stays on top of the crease which makes stopping a second or third scoring chance much easier. That is just one example of the many benefits that can come from playing behind a goaltender like Pekka Rinne. That being said, one of my earlier points about putting a player in a role before they are ready, is a two way street, and it is also harmful to a players development to keep them from a role they are ready for. On the bright side, the coaching staff for the Nashville Predators are an extremely talented group of professionals who know how to do their job, so our job as fans should be as simple as sitting down, grabbing some popcorn, and watching the spectacle that is the Nashville Predators.