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Nashville Predators

Predators’ Pekka Rinne Impressing Team With Performance

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The Nashville Predator are feeling good about their chances as the Stanley Cup Playoffs approach, especially with Pekka Rinne playing at the level he’s currently playing at.

Rinne (40-9-4) made 35 saves for his NHL-leading eighth shutout of the season, an NHL career high, as the Predators blanked the Buffalo Sabres.

With the shutout Rinne became the seventh goaltender in NHL history to have at least three seasons with 40 or more wins, joining his idol Miikka Kiprusoff, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Evgeni Nabokov, Braden Holtby  and Martin Brodeur.

“It’s so hard to believe,” Rinne said (h/t NHL.com).

“I mean, growing up in Finland, he [Kiprusoff] was the goalie we all looked up to. It’s an honor to be mentioned with him.”

“I grew up idolizing him and watching him play,” Rinne said. “I had a chance to meet him and play against him a few times. I can’t say I know him very well, though.

“It’s unreal to be in the same ballpark as him. In my books, he’s a legend. He’s the first Finnish goalie that really took it to another level and established himself as a No. 1 goalie for a lot of years. He’s obviously someone I really look up to. It’s great.”

The accomplishment seems to mean a lot to Rinne, even though he wasn’t aware of it until well after the game was over.

“I didn’t know that,” Rinne said when he learned about his historic accomplishment. “When you say that, it sounds pretty cool.

“[Brodeur, Plante and Sawchuk] are legends of this game. They’ve done so much not only for the game of hockey, but for the position of being a goalie.”

“You want great? He’s been great,” Predators defenseman P.K Subban said. “In my mind, he’s been great all year. There is no question he should win it.

“That’s not to take anything away from the other goaltenders around the League who have been great all year. But in this instance, there is no question.”

Subban has seen greatness up-close as he was a member of the Montreal Canadiens when Carey Price won the Vezina Trophy in 2015.

“There are a ton of similarities between [Rinne] and [Price],” Subban said. “I think they’re both big guys. They’re both really good at handling the puck.

“I do remember a few years back when [Price] won the Vezina, [Rinne] had an amazing start to the season. He had a bunch of shutouts early on and then injured his knee. [Price] is a great goaltender and deserved to win it, but [Rinne] was in that conversation until the injury.

“As for this year, I’m not surprised by it. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with two elite ones in [Price] and [Rinne].”

“He’s unbelievable,” Predators forward Ryan Johansen said.

“In our opinion, he’s been the most valuable player for us and definitely will be recognized, I’m sure, come the award time in Vegas this year for more than one.

“It’s been a lot of fun playing in front of him and watching him and the way he competes every night.”

“We need to keep it going,” Rinne said. “All that matters for us right now is wins.”

Buffalo Sabres

Predators Acquire Nick Baptiste from Sabres for Jack Dougherty

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The Nashville Predators have acquired forward Nick Baptiste from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for defenseman Jack Doughtery in a trade that was announced by both teams on Monday.

Baptiste appeared in 33 games for the Sabres last season, scoring 4 goals and notching 2 assists. Baptiste was Buffalo’s 2013 third-round draft pick.

Dougherty has played the past 2 seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals, Nashville’s AHL affiliate team, where he registered 1 goal and picked up 11 assists over 63 games with the team last season.

 

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Nashville Predators

Scott Hartnell Announces Retirement

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After 17 seasons in the NHL, Scott Hartnell is calling it a career.

Hartnell announced his retirement on Monday by posting the following on his official Twitter page:

Every young kid from a small town across Canada dreams of playing a game in the NHL … I was fortunate enough to play 1,249 of them.

A huge thank you to the Nashville Predators (twice), the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Columbus Blue Jackets. You are all world class organizations and it was an honor playing for your cities! (Seventeen) years in the NHL was the best job anyone could ever ask for. The games, the fans, the travel, the hotels, the food, the pregame soccer games, are just some of the things that I will always remember and miss. …

Thanks again to my family, friends & all of the fans that cheered for me (and against) along the way. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my wife Katie and son Wesley. Cheers to the NHL, and the next phase of life!

Hartnell accumulated 327 goals and 380 assists in 1,249 games throughout his career and spent his final season with the Nashville Predators last year.

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Nashville Predators

Predators Sign Ryan Ellis to 8 Year, $50M Extension

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The Nashville Predators have signed defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year, $50-million contract extension, according to an official team announcement on Tuesday.

Ellis, who is in the final year of a five-year, $12.5-million deal that pays him a modest $2.5 per season, was set to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2018-2019 regular season but will now remain under contract through the 2026-27  season.

“Ryan is a huge part of our team on and off the ice and we are happy to have his leadership remain in our locker room for the foreseeable future,” general manager David Poile said in a release. “We have talked about wanting to keep the core of our team together, and this is another opportunity to help us do so while continuing to compete for a Stanley Cup. Ryan is entering his prime and is one of the reasons why we feel this team has a chance to win every time we step on the ice.”

Ellis only played in 44 games last season, but still poured in nine goals and 32 points for Nashville.

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