In the inaugural edition of Nashville Predators News & Rumors here at The Hockey Writers, we look over the Predators’ recent prospect signing and what he can bring to the table. Next, we look at Pekka Rinne‘s exciting week with a King Clancy nomination and talks about his plans for the future, and finally, some comments made by general manager David Poile in his end-of-season presser.
Juuso Pärssinen Signing
The Predators signed 2019 seventh-round pick Juuso Pärssinen to a three-year, entry-level deal with a cap hit of $850,833. The contract comes into effect at the start of the 2021-22 season.
Pärssinen is one of the scarce diamonds in the rough found in the last round of the entry draft. He’s a sturdy, 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, and is an excellently skilled puck-carrying forward. After his draft year, he played exceptionally well in the U20 league for Finland, scoring 21 points in 20 games, and he eventually got promoted to the Liiga. He scored 12 points in 31 total games. This season, he spent his full year there and produced extremely well on the first line, scoring 42 points in 55 games. At the World Junior Championships, where the Finns won the bronze medal, he was one of the team’s top players. He scored four points in seven games and dominated puck possession while he was on the ice. His ability to transition the puck did not go unnoticed, and it helped him create scoring opportunities for his teammates and create goals for himself, as it always does.
After watching Pärssinen play some games, it’s no wonder that 34 of his 42 points this season in Liiga were assists. His soft hands and ability to think the game well in both the offensive and defensive zone are crucial to getting the puck to the right areas. Although he might not be coming to North America all that soon, it is essential to realize this is a big step for the late-round pick. He’s a player that Poile and the front office should take pride in drafting.
Pekka Rinne Nominated for King Clancy Award
With the playoffs in full swing, it means the offseason is nearing. With the offseason comes player awards, including the esteemed King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The trophy is awarded to the player that best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice. Rinne got the honor of not only being the team’s nominee but a finalist as well.
Among the other two finalists — former Predators defenseman P.K. Subban and San Jose Sharks forward Kurtis Gabriel — Rinne got his spot due to his work with the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. Former Predators captain Shea Weber and Rinne began the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, which helps fund cancer research and has raised an extremely impressive total of around $3 million since it started in 2012. He takes part in so many other community opportunities and the Best Buddies Program and Make-A-Wish foundation to help those with cancer and other disabilities. He’s also an avid contributor to awareness for Parkinson’s and aid for those who have the debilitating disease.
During this crazy time with COVID-19, Rinne was the catalyst for donations to small businesses in Nashville as well. With his help, the companies that received his support and the service of the Predators organization, in turn, were able to pay their employees and stay in business. Many people got laid off due to poor financial situations for the owners, so keeping people’s livelihoods afloat in a troublesome time is incredible.
Rinne’s Retirement Plan
An exit in the first round to the Carolina Hurricanes gave the team a much earlier summer than they wanted. As they do every year, the Predators hosted their end-of-season exit interviews, and the players answered questions about their performances, how they think the season went, what they can improve on, and a variety of other subjects. The hot-topic player was Rinne, as he ended his year (and possibly career) with a 5-0 shutout win over the Hurricanes.
Right out of the gate, he was asked about his plans for the future, and Rinne said that he is taking some time to think over all of his options in his typical, extremely polite manner. Taking a step back is vital for both him and his family to make the right decision. His approach to the entire interview and questions about his future was all about no regrets, taking as much time as possible, and keeping his options open. So, as of now, there is no official word or even any hints on Rinne’s future.
David Poile’s Presser
Probably the second most popular interviewee — behind Rinne, of course — in the postseason pressers was the general manager. Poile started his presser by explaining that he’s not happy with the end result, and he wants to see the team have a chance to beat a club like the Hurricanes instead of just competing with them. After a minor mention about exit meetings with the players, he subtly threw in a quote that caught everyone’s attention.
“Internally, we’ve started some evaluations, and that’s going to continue for the next couple of weeks. We’re not ready to say what the changes are going to be for next year, but as we prepare to do that, I think it’s fair to say that we can expect some changes in our lineup.”
David Poile’s End of Season Recap, June 3, 2021
It’s no secret that the young guns on the roster came in and proved themselves when the team was in a rut. The question looming is whether or not the changes include making next season’s final roster full of younger players like Poile said he would do this season, but failed to deliver on until his hand was forced due to injuries. Whether the changes are gradual or rapid, they are undoubtedly coming. It will be interesting to see what Poile, John Hynes, and the coaching staff have for their evaluations, and what tricks they pull out of their sleeve after this year’s young player debacle.
Jeff is a writer for the Nashville Predators department here at THW. He lives and attends high school in Nashville. His family has been season ticket holders for the Preds since their inaugural season. He writes for his own Substack, Last Word on Sports in the hockey department, and the Predators SB Nation site, On The Forecheck