The Predators suffered a major injury blow on Thursday, announcing that goalie Pekka Rinne would be lost for a minimum of four weeks with a spontaneous bacterial infection in his surgically repaired hip.
Rinne, who turns 31 in November, underwent hip arthroscopy during the offseason, a major procedure that sidelined him for nearly four months. The recovery dipped into training camp and the exhibition season, though the Finnish netminder insisted he’d be “be 100 percent on opening night.”
While he was ready to play on opening night, he was hardly 100 percent, getting yanked after allowing three goals on six shots to St. Louis.
Rinne’s been good since, posting a 4-4-1 record with a .917 save percentage and 2.31 GAA, but there now have to be major concerns within the Nashville organization about the health of his hip, especially since he’s only in year two of a seven-year, $49 million contract extension.
The Preds may also have to adjust how they handle Rinne’s workload moving forward.
In 2011-12, he set league highs in games (73), shots faced (2,153) and finished second in minutes played (4,168). In 2013, he appeared in 43 of Nashville’s 48 games and appeared to wear down as the season progressed.
One problem with limiting Rinne’s minutes, though, is the lack of experience behind him. The No. 1 duties in Nashville now fall to Carter Hutton, a 27-year-old ex-Chicago farmhand with exactly three games of NHL experience. Behind Hutton is the recently-recalled Magnus Hellberg, who has never played in the NHL and has just 39 AHL games under his belt.
It’s possible the Preds could go looking for short-term, stopgap goalie help in the interim. Expect to hear Jose Theodore’s and Johan Hedberg’s names come up as potential replacements.