Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has been named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, as voted on by general managers of all NHL clubs. This is Rinne’s third career nomination for the award, given annually to the NHL goaltender judged to be the best at his position. Rinne was nominated in 2011 and 2012, but is yet to win the award.
After missing significant time due to a hip infection in 2013-14, Rinne returned to form in the 2014-15 campaign, finishing the season with 41 wins (tied for second in the NHL) and among the League leaders in goals-against average (2.18) and save percentage (.923).
“Rinne is synonymous with us being successful,” Predators General Manager David Poile said. “The last two years, with Rinne not being at 100 percent, we didn’t make the playoffs either time. This year, he comes back, he’s the ‘old Pekka’ if you will, and now our team is not only back in the playoffs but one of the best teams in the NHL.”
Nashville’s nominee for the 2015 Masterton Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, Rinne recorded two, six-game winning streaks and posted four shutouts during the regular season.
On March 14 in Los Angeles, Rinne made 23 saves to record his 200th career NHL victory, and the 600th all-time for the franchise, in his 370th career appearance, all of which had come as a member of the Preds. Against the Rangers on Feb. 7, the Kempele, Finland, native became the fastest (in terms of games played) goaltender to record 30 wins (39 games played) since the NHL adopted the shootout in 2005-06 and just the third goalie in the NHL’s expansion era to tally 30 wins in 39 games or less.
“He’s just so even keeled,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Rinne. “He works hard every day, he’s professional in what he does, but he’s an even-keeled guy. He’s got such a great disposition about him as a person. Every day he comes in, he’s got a smile on his face, he works hard in practice and then he goes out and plays the way he does in games; from that sense, it’s a complete package.”
Rinne was recognized League-wide three times during the regular season for his play; he received the NHL’s Third Star of the Month in November (10-1-0, 1.70 goals-against average, .938 save percentage) and the NHL’s Third Star of the Week for the week ending Feb. 14 (stopped 83-of-87 shots faced and went 3-0-0). He was also one of three Predators players selected to represent the Preds at the 2015 NHL All-Star festivities, but was unable to participate due to injury.
Rinne, along with Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild, will make the trip to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 24, where the winner of the Vezina Trophy will be revealed.