With the 7-year, $49 million contract extension they announced on Thursday, his 29th birthday, the Nashville Predators have signed Pekka Rinne to the largest deal in franchise history. They’ve also made him the highest-paid goaltender in the National Hockey League for players under contract in 2012-13, based on his $7 million annual cap hit.
“I wouldn’t say that was the intention,” Rinne’s agent Jay Grossman told Yahoo! Sports moments after the deal was announced.
“Essentially, it came down to the fact there was a commitment that needed to be made to a potential free agent who finished second in the Vezina Trophy voting and fourth in the MVP voting, [one] that was going to be substantial. The Predators made the commitment.”
For NHL goaltenders, only Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders (15 years), Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks (12 years) and Ilya Bryzgalov of the Philadelphia Flyers (9 years) have longer contracts than Rinne’s. His $7 million cap hit next season places him above those of Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers ($6.875 million) and Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes ($6.3 million) for the most lucrative in the League.
How did the sides arrive at this contract, and what does it mean for Shea Weber and Ryan Suter?
In February 2010, Rinne signed a 2-year, $4-million deal with the Predators. “We signed a shorter-term deal in the last go round, which was only two years after a really strong performance,” said Grossman. “It gave him an opportunity to have his contract come back around. It allowed him to perform and achieve those things.”
Grossman said the sides talked about a variety of contract options in this negotiation. “One being a shorter-term contract, one being a longer one, more along the lines of what Luongo and Byrzgalov had done,” he said.
The reason they settled on seven years? The Collective Bargaining Agreement plays into it.
Rinne wanted something long-term, but “ruled out a lifetime kind of deal,” according to Grossman. This contract makes him a free agent at 36.
“We were pleased with the term. If the CBA stays the same, coming up at 34 or particularly at 35 is not a real good opportunity if the rules change, and how certain things count against the cap. So signing as a 35 year old is not really that wonderful position to be in, so we ruled out five and six years,” said Grossman.