How Will P. Rinne's Return Affect Predators' NHL Futures Odds?

David Lawrence

Monday, August 11, 2014 5:35 PM GMT

For the first time in two offseasons, Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has been able to work out fully. Hip issues hampered him in both 2012 and 2013, and it’s effected his performance on the ice.

Rinne has the ability to be the best goaltender in the NHL, so it will be interesting to see if he can get back to that level in 2014-15 now that he’s fully healthy.

 

Rinne Hip Problems Behind Him
Rinne has had hip issues for nearly two years and even required surgery, so it’s good to see that he’s past them. Last year, he was limited to just 24 games and he posted career-lows for GAA (2.77) and save percentage (.902). We’re talking about a goaltender who has a career GAA of 2.39, so that’s a significant dip for him. It’s not a coincidence that with Rinne banged up over the last two years, the Preds failed to make the postseason both times. Prior to that, they had made the playoffs in seven of the previous eight years.

Rinne has been the cornerstone of the Preds franchise and any success they’ve had over the last six years can be attested to him. Having him back to full strength is the first step to the Predators getting back in the playoff news.

 

How Good Or Bad Are The Preds?
The Preds have fallen quite far down the totem pole. It began with the injury to Rinne but apparently that was just the start. Head coach Barry Trotz was canned as a result and now the Preds head in a new direction under Peter Laviolette.

When you look at the Stanley Cup odds for 2014-15, you’d probably be surprised to see the Preds as the biggest long shot at 75/1. That ties them with teams like the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers; are they really that bad? Although this team has been a regular contestant in the playoffs in the 2000’s, the answer might actually be ‘yes’.

The Preds have always had a tough time scoring goals, which is mostly due to the front office running a very frugal ship. They have the 27th most amount of cap space and as bad as they were last year, they didn’t really use much of that free money. They’ve been built around defense and goaltending, and with that part of the team failing last year, that’s why they became so bad. Laviolette is going to change the culture of this team as they’re now going to try to be offensive-minded while maintaining the defensive principles and qualities from the last regime.

 

How To Bet The News
The reality is this: when Rinne is healthy, this is typically a top 10 team defensively. Last year, they gave up 242 goals, which was seventh-most in the NHL. With Rinne and a defensive corps that includes Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Anton Volchenkov and Seth Jones, this should be a top 10 team in terms of goals allowed once again.

The issue is the offense. Can Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy bounce back? Can James Neal deliver without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin around? Can Laviolette get this group to overachieve? If the answer is yes, then this is one of the most overlooked teams in NHL betting odds right now. We’ve seen Laviolette work magic in Carolina and Philadelphia in the past, so it’s possible. But what’s likely closer to the truth is this team needs a year to transition from being a conservative, low-scoring team to one that plays more of a free-flowing game. And in the tough Western Conference, rebuilding teams don’t get into the playoffs.