Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators was name starting goaltender for the Rookie Team in this Saturday’s Young Stars game which is a part of the NHL All-Star weekend in Montreal. He replaced Columbus Blue Jacket’s goaltender, Steve Mason, who announced on Tuesday that he will not play due to back spasms.
The 26-year-old Rinne was drafted 258th overall by Nashville in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the same draft in which the Predators picked up Alexander Radulov and Mike Santorelli. Following the draft Rinne continued to play with Kärpät, in the Finnish Elite League, going undefeated for the 2004-05 season, and leading the team to the league Championship.
The next three seasons Rinne played with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League leading them to the Calder Cup Finals in 2006. Rinne made a cameo appearance with the Predators for two games in 2005, winning his first NHL game on December 15 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks.
After his breakout AHL season in 2005-06 Rinne was slowed by a non-hockey related shoulder injury delaying his ascent to the NHL. Last season after a full recovery, he led the AHL in victories with 36. His solid play gave the Predators enough confidence to be able to trade veteran Chris Mason during the off season allowing Rinne to earn an NHL roster spot.
Rinne started this season as the Predators backup, but with Dan Ellis’ struggles in goal he has gotten the bulk of the starts recently. After a rough start to the season, Pekka Rinne has turned out to be an outstanding player. The 6′ 5”, 206 pound, Finnish rookie goaltender is having a tremendous season with a 2.33 goals against average, a .916 save percentage, and a record of 10-7-0. He has also had four shutouts this season, ranking him fifth in the league.
The format of this year’s Young Stars game pits a team of rookies against the best of last year’s rookie crop. It can be seen on Versus Network on Saturday at 7:00 PM EST as part of the NHL Super Skills presentation. Rinne will travel to Montreal with Predator Defensive star Shea Weber who will play in the NHL All-Star game on Sunday at 6:00 PM also televised on Versus Network.