Aug 18, 2013, 6:50 PM EST
At face value, Pekka Rinne didn’t handle the title of $7 million goalie very well in 2013.
His save percentage plummeted to .910 after he registered sterling .923 and .930 marks the previous two seasons. Perhaps even worse for a workhorse goalie: his record was below .500 at 15-16-8.
A closer look might argue that Rinne’s work tends to rise and fall with the way the Nashville Predators play in front of him.
Sure, you hope that a guy in his pay grade can overcome difficult circumstances, but there wasn’t as much slippage as you might expect.
The 30-year-old netminder’s even-strength save percentage was .927, which more or less falls in line with his work from recent seasons. Much of his struggles likely come in lockstep with bigger picture problems for Nashville (which probably have a least something to do with losing 2013 Norris Trophy finalist Ryan Suter).
The price of a big contract
Still, some serious pressure comes with that $7 million cap hit.
Rinne may need to steal some games to silence murmurs about that contract morphing into an albatross. It’s not particularly fair – especially considering the passive nature of his position – but that’s often how sports work.
On the bright side, the future of the defense in front of the big Finn looks increasingly bright. Shea Weber is in a select class of elite defensemen, Roman Josi is one of the league’s hidden gems and Seth Jones drew serious consideration as the top prospect from the 2013 NHL Draft.
Context likely explains some of Rinne’s best and worst moments up to this point, so the good news is that Nashville’s defensive outlook seems promising.
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