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Fantasy Spin: Predators goalie Rinne ready to return

by Matt Cubeta

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne will return from a sprained knee and start Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks. Goalie Marek Mazanec was reassigned to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Wednesday.

This is tremendous news for fantasy owners who have Rinne on their team. Despite missing Nashville's past eight games because of a knee injury, Rinne ranks as the second most valuable fantasy goalie this season. He leads the NHL with 29 wins (in 37 games), his 1.96 goals-against average is behind Brian Elliott's 1.95 for the League lead, and his .931 save percentage is second behind Carey Price's .932.

Despite missing Nashville's past eight games because of a knee injury, Pekka Rinne should be more than capable of performing at an elite level for fantasy owners. (Photo: Getty Images)

In's midseason fantasy hockey awards, Rinne received three votes as either MVP or runner-up for MVP among all players. He also was the consensus fantasy MVP at his position as voted by our nine fantasy insiders.

Simply put, Rinne was the most reliable and consistent goalie in the game prior to his injury. Of the 37 games he's appeared in, five times has he allowed more than three goals against in a game. He has three shutouts, 12 games in which he's allowed one goal against and 13 games in which he's allowed two goals against. That is remarkable consistency and he is the largest reason the Predators have had so much success this season.

From a fantasy standpoint, getting Rinne back into your lineup should push your team toward a championship. According to Yahoo fantasy leagues, Rinne appears on 25.8 percent of fantasy teams that are at the top of the standings in public rotisserie leagues. That is the third-highest percentage behind Price and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.

With Rinne's return Thursday against Anaheim I expect him to return to his dominant form. Sure Price raised his game in January and is the No. 1 fantasy goalie in Yahoo leagues, but there's a very good chance Rinne will reclaim that spot by the time the regular season ends.

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