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Pekka Rinne’s Future In the NHL

Avalanche upset

It all began for the Finnish netminder back in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. This is when the Nashville Predators drafted a young Rinne 258th overall. It wasn’t easy, but over the years, Rinne worked hard to prove himself to both the Preds and the NHL. He had played only a few games in between the pipes for the Preds during his early years. But it appears that the 2008-09 season was his year.

During this season, Rinne had more playing time with the Preds. Once again, Rinne worked hard and it eventually paid off in the long run. At the conclusion of the 2010-11 season, Rinne was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. But the Preds saw potential in Rinne and decided they absolutely needed him. In late 2011, on Rinne’s 29th birthday, he inked a seven-year deal worth $49 million. It was quite a big contract for the Preds to offer him, but the organization had plenty of confidence in Rinne. They knew he was the right man for the team.

Even after the team’s big Stanley Cup Finals run ended in 2017, the Preds knew Rinne was a reliable goalie. Once his contract ended in Nov. 2018, Rinne signed a two-year contract with the Preds.

Rinne’s Time In the NHL Is Short

At the time Rinne signed his recent contract, he was 36 years old. He has proven to the Preds that he is the goalie the team needs to be successful. However, considering the fact that at this time the Finnish goalie was 36 years of age, both the Preds and Rinne knew that time was at hand. At this point, retirement was marching closer and closer to Rinne’s way. But when? There hasn’t been any confirmation that Rinne will retire, nor does he have any plans to, at least not yet, that is.

Certainly for Rinne, retirement is inevitable. He will retire sooner or later. The Preds know this, too. They know that they will lose a well-seasoned goalie who has put a lot into the game over the past 16 years. Fortunately, the Preds have Juuse Saros, who was drafted by the Preds in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Saros, like Rinne, has shown he has what it takes to be the Preds goalie. He has played in many games, filling in for Rinne when needed. Saros has shown a much-needed level of reliability and high-quality goalkeeping for the Preds. In this case for the organization, this is important because they will be able to look at Saros as a long-term option after Rinne’s retirement.

A Change In Rinne Later In His Career

The Preds have two reliable, solid goalies to look at. That’s a good thing, of course. They can start Rinne or Saros whenever it is necessary to give the other goalie the game off to rest up. However, it seems like some part of the plan may have changed. During the 2019-20 NHL season, the Preds had a solid start. But it was in March 2020 that Saros was moved from “back-up” goalie to starter, removing Rinne as starter.

It was, notably, a rocky start for the Preds in early 2020. They had their fair share of wins and losses, but it just seemed like things weren’t going right. So, Saros was assigned as a starter.

Now here we are at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, where Saros is still the starter for the Preds. For the first two games of the season, Saros helped his team win. The team played the Columbus Blue Jackets twice, winning each game 3-1 and 5-2 respectively.

On Jan. 18 in a matchup versus the Carolina Hurricanes, head coach John Hynes decided to let Rinne start. This provided Saros with some rest. Consequently, the Preds fell 2-5 in this match. This was the first time Rinne played since March 2020, almost a year ago.

Now, at 38-years old, retirement is coming even closer to Rinne. At the end of the season, his contract expires. In addition, Rinne is now a father to his son Paulus Oliver, who was born Dec. 4. So, the looming question remains: When will Rinne retire? With his contract expiring and his new role as a father, the word retirement may bare a lot of weight on him at this point in his NHL career.

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