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If any team is bold enough to trade Pekka Rinne, it's Nashville

If any team is bold enough to trade Pekka Rinne, it's Nashville
Published On: Sat, May 12
Oct 17, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators left wing Mike Hoffman (68) skates with the puck in front of Nashville Predator right wing Craig Smith (15) in the third period at Canadian Tire Centre. The Predators defeated the Senators 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Deal away your franchise goalie in what will probably be his Vezina year? Sacrilege! Or is it? The Predators haven't gotten the clutch goaltending they need " and they have a history of wild, unexpected trades.

The fact the Nashville Predators lost Game 7 of the Central Division final at home Thursday night was forgivable enough. Yes, this team won the Presidents Trophy with a franchise-record 117 points, and the mission was Stanley Cup or bust after a Game 6 loss in the 2017 final. But, hey, the Predators ran into the Jets, the team that finished with three fewer points in the regular season. The series was a coin flip from the puck drop of Game 1, and no team won consecutive games. So, in theory, there was no shame in losing a seven-game war to an equally fantastic club.

But how Nashville lost the game was the problem. This wasnt a 2-1 heartbreaker in overtime. Pekka Rinne, who in June should win his first Vezina Trophy as the leagues top goaltender, wound up pulled by coach Peter Laviolette after 10 minutes and 31 seconds, during which Rinne allowed two odd, bad-angle goals while seemingly tight against his post. The second goal from Paul Stastny turned out to be the winner, meaning Game 7 was decided in those first 10 and a half minutes.

The Predators lost this series for more than one reason. Mark Scheifeles brilliant effort for Winnipeg, in which he scored seven road goals at Bridgestone Arena, showed the value of a dominant No. 1 center and highlighted that Nashville, while extremely deep down the middle, doesnt have the true star option. At the same time, no player warranted more blame for the loss than Rinne, who was pulled three times in the series. The Predators and GM David Poile now find themselves in an extremely awkward position entering a crucial off-season.

Rinne is the best goaltender in Predators history and ranks as one of the franchises two greatest contributors ever alongside Shea Weber. While many advanced statistics over the years have exposed Rinne as overrated despite his flashy, impressive athleticism and size, Rinne was genuinely good this season even when you looked under the hood. Hell deserve his Vezina. Yet hes let the team down when it desperately needed him. Even with Rinne getting the hook three times, Nashville was a game away from the Western Conference final. Even when he dropped some stink bombs on the road in the Stanley Cup final last year, the Preds got two wins away from a championship. If Rinne was 10 percent better, we could be looking at consecutive Nashville Cups, so its not a stretch to say his meltdown games have cost his team a lot. Rinne turns 36 in November and enters the final season of his contract at a $7-million cap hit.

Read the complete news article here...

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