is not only re-signed, but signed to a contract that will keep him with the Preds for the remainder of his career. Rinne, who just turned 29 today (click here to post your Birthday wishes for Rinne
), has emerged as one of the elite goaltenders in the game. He was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season along with Tim Thomas (37 years old) and Roberto Luongo (32 years old).
In fact, looking back at the last 14 Vezina Trophy winners, only one has been younger than 29 --- Jose Theodore was 25 when he won the award in 2001-02) --- and six have been 34 or older. Goaltending in today’s NHL has become about experience. Rinne has it and can make a very strong claim as the top goaltender under 30 right now.
The emergence of Rinne is also a credit to the Predators organization, who drafted Rinne in the eighth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft before patiently moving him throughout the system. As a team that has had some goaltender turnover in the past, the re-signing of Rinne solidifies a crucial spot on the ice and sets a foundation for the Preds for years to come.
Rinne notched his 100th NHL win against Anaheim on Saturday, and also set a franchise record by recording his 22nd shutout. Impressive numbers considering he just began his fourth full season in Nashville. In the three seasons prior to 2011-12, he had 20 shutouts, which was tied for the best mark in the NHL.
The Preds reached the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first in franchise history last season, and Rinne was a major reason why. He was already known as one of the NHL’s top goaltenders, but his spectacular playoffs performances on such a major stage made him a household name throughout the hockey world.
Opposing players and national media outlets continually bestow compliments and awards to the 6-foot-5, 209-pound Finland native. In the 2011-12 edition of The Hockey News’ Best of Everything in Hockey, Rinne was ranked No. 1 for ‘Best Glove Hand’ and No. 3 for ‘Best Goaltender.’
Rinne never appeared distracted as contract talks were taking place, and it certainly did not affect his play. Still, with the negotiations behind him, it’s one less thing for him to worry about. And it should be noted that Rinne is an outstanding locker room presence, respected by his peers as not only an outstanding player but also as a person and teammates. Rinne is never one to point fingers and he has a team approach that is genuine. --Bryan Mullen/Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com