The Hockey Writers Nashville Predators staff writer Colin Fitts will evaluate the performance of each player on the 2014-15 Predators roster every weekday in alphabetical order. You can follow Colin on Twitter, @FittsTHW.
Height/Weight: 6-foot-5, 204 lbs
Stat Line: 41-17-6 record, 2.18 GAA, .923 save percentage and 4 shutouts
Playoffs Stat Line: 2-2-2 record, 2.68 goals against average, .909 save percentage and 0 shutouts
Shootout Stat Line: 4-4 record, 18-for-25 against shooters
Contract Status: 4 years remaining on a 7-year, $49 million contract ($7 million cap hit in 2014-15)
Highlight of the Year: Nearly every game, Rinne makes a save that belongs on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Night. There are just too many highlights to chose from. So, instead, the Highlight of the Year for Rinne is more comical than amazing. In overtime of Game 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks, Rinne lost a puck in his pads for nearly three minutes before eventually finding it.
Strengths: As one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, Rinne is the backbone of the Predators. The team’s success is synonymous with how Rinne plays. His unconventional saves are mesmerizing and are often times game-deciding. Rinne’s 41 wins tied for the second-most in the NHL. On Feb. 7, Rinne became the fastest goalie to record 30 wins in a season since the league’s shootout era. He also ranked third in GAA among goalies who played a minimum 25 games. Rinne is a Vezina Trophy finalist for the third time in his career, but has yet to win. Going up against Carey Price, it is unlikely he wins this year.
Weaknesses: Rinne has become injury prone since suffering a hip injury in May 2013. In 2013-14, Rinne missed five months after discovering his surgically repaired hip was infected with E. Coli. Last season, Rinne had a Vezina and Hart Trophy worthy season going for him until he sprained his knee on Jan. 16, which made him miss eight games and the All-Star Game. After the injury, he was 12-11-4 with a .915 save percentage. For the Predators, who have Rinne under contract for another four years, this is a scary situation for their starting goalie.
What to Expect Next Season: Nashville can only hope Rinne is healthy the entire year. To make sure that happens, head coach Peter Laviolette should limit his starts to 60-65 starts next season.
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Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer and is a credentialed media member of the Chicago Wolves. From Nashville, Tennessee, Colin majors in journalism and public relations at Columbia College Chicago. Follow him on Twitter, @FittsTHW. Email: 22fitts [at] gmail [dot] com.