Nashville Predators sign Pekka Rinne to largest contract in franchise history

Via Sean Gentille – Sporting News

Pekka Rinne is one of the NHL’s top goaltenders. Now, he’ll be paid accordingly.

The Nashville Predators signed Rinne, who would’ve been an unrestricted free agent after the season, to a seven-year, $49 million extension, the team announced Thursday. No goalie in the league currently carries a $7 million salary cap hit—the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist comes closest, at $6.875 million, according to

Pekka Rinne will carry the largest salary-cap hit among NHL goaltenders. (AP Photo)
With Rinne in the fold long term, the Predators now can focus fully on negotiating deals with captain Shea Weber, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason, and Ryan Suter, though whether they actually hold on to the defensemen is far from a sure thing.

Weber, one of the NHL’s elite players, will again be a restricted free agent in the offseason. The sides had attempted to sign a long-term deal but failed, leading to Weber’s record $7.5 million award. Suter, meanwhile, can be an unrestricted free agent and in line for a significant raise on his $3.5 million salary.

“Today’s signing is further evidence of our ownership’s commitment to keeping our core intact,” GM David Poile said in a team release. “This is the first step of a process designed to retain our key players and leaders. Pekka has grown with our franchise, just recently established our franchise record for career shutouts and is now recognized as one of the game’s elite players. We’re thrilled to know that he will be backstopping our franchise for several years to come.”

Nashville, coming off the first playoff series win in franchise history, carries a 2011-12 payroll of less than $50 million—about $15 million under the NHL’s salary cap—and is typically one of the league’s lower-spending teams. With Rinne’s salary added to their 2012-13 projections, the Predators have nearly $31 million devoted to 11 players.

As for Rinne, who turned 29 Thursday as well, he was a Vezina trophy finalist after the 2010-11 season (33-22-9, 2.12 GAA, .930 save percentage) and already has two shutouts in 2011-12.

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