Frederick Breedon - Getty Images
With #35, we come to the only jersey number in our series that has featured three goaltenders battling it out.
Fichaud was acquired by the expansion Predators from the Edmonton Oilers along with Drake Berehowsky and Greg de Vries for Mikhail Shtalenkov and Jim Dowd on October 1, 1998. He was unable to gain sufficient playing time when the Predators opted to go with Mike Dunham and Tomas Vokoun as their top two goalies. Fichaud played a total of 9 games with the Preds, dubbed as the losing goalie of 6 of them and finishing with a 3.22 GAA. He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for the Toronto Maple Leafs' fourth-round choice in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft (Yevgeny Pavlov) and future considerations on June 26, 1999.
The Zvolen, Slovakia native would end up playing only 6 games in the NHL, all of which can be attributed to the Nashville Predators. In fact, Lasak's resume looks much more impressive before he attempted to make the jump to the majors.
The 6th choice, 65th overall selection of the Predators in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Lasak was a member of the bronze-medal winning Slovakian squad at the 1999 World Junior Championships and silver medal. In 2000, he joined the ECHL's Hampton Roads Admirals in 1999-2000. Lasak went on to appear in the 2000 ECHL All-Star Game and was named the 2000 ECHL Rookie of the Year, Goaltender of the Year and First Team All-Star. The young Slovak netminder went on to lead the ECHL in wins with 36, minutes played 3,408 and shootout wins with seven. Lasak was upgraded to the Milwaukee Admirals in the 00-01 season, finishing with a 23-17-2 record with a 2.61 GAA, leading all IHL rookie goalies in games played with 43 and save percentage (.913). A member of Slovakia's World Championship team in 2001, Lasak returned to the Admirals in 2001-02 and saw first action with the Preds that season. All 3 games he played for the Preds that season he lost. The following season he also played 3 games with the Predators, being officially credited with 1 loss.
Lasak decided to abandoned his aspirations to be an NHL regular the next season and defected to the Russian Super League to play for SKA St. Petersburg.
"Peks" was the eighth round, 258th overall selection of the Nashville Predators in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. At 6'5" (1.96m). He honed his skills in his homeland with Karpat Oulu before making his North American debut in 2005-06, leading his club team to back to back Finnish Elite League championships in 2004 and 2005. Rinne was signed by the Predators on August 23, 2005 and began his North American playing career with the Admirals. Initially, Rinne was assigned as the backup to Brian Finley but quickly assumed the role of starting goaltender due to Finley's poor performance. In 51 games, he posted a 2.82 GAA and was a huge reason for the Ads advancing to the Calder Cup Final against the Hershey Bears. During that playoff run, Rinne accumulated 10 wins in 14 games and recorded a 2.86 GAA. He also appeared in two NHL games with Nashville during the 2005-06 season, compiling a record of 1-1-0 with a .900 save percentage and a GAA of 3.80.
Rinne continued with the Admirals the following season, though he joined the team late due to a shoulder injury resulting from being assaulted by unknown assailants outside a bar in his native Finland that summer. He missed training camp and the start of the regular season after undergoing surgery to repair a dislocated left shoulder. Rinne played 29 games with the Admrirals, recording 15 wins and a 2.34 GAA. The Ads qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs once more, but they were swept by the Chicago Wolves in the first round. The next season would serve as Rinne's last stint with the Admirals, amassing 36 wins in 65 games and a 2.47 GAA. His performance led to his team's sixth consecutive appearance in the Calder Cup Playoffs, yet the Admirals would drop the first round in 6 games, once again to the Chicago Wolves.
Following Dan Ellis's record season during the 07-08 Predators campaign, starter Chris Mason was traded to the St. Louis Blues and Rinne was called up to serve as back-up to Ellis for the 2008-09 season. On December 1, 2008, Rinne became only the second Predators rookie goaltender ever to record a shutout. He also earned NHL First Star of the Week honors for the week of Dec. 7 after posting two shutouts and allowing only two goals on 83 shots in three starts (3-0-0 record). In February 2009, Rinne recorded 9 wins in 12 games and had a .944 SV% and a 1.72 GAA. Consequently, he was selected as the NHL rookie of the month. On March 14, Rinne set a Predators franchise record with his seventh shutout of the season.
Rinne continued his success the subsequent year, tying a career high and franchise record in shutouts (7), becoming the second goalie in club history to record 30 wins in a season (Tomas Vokoun), and recording a 2.38 GAA and 917 GAA. He also won his playoff debut in Game One of the WQF vs. Chicago, stopping 25-of-26 shots to record the first road win in the franchise's playoff history.
Then, tragedy struck. In the 10-11 season opener, Rinne allowed a goal before colliding with Anaheim Ducks forward Troy Bodie and suffering a lower-body injury. Anders Lindback relieved him and went on to start three games before Rinne returned, only to go down again in December. Since returning on December 23, Rinne remained healthy and put up some of the better numbers of his career. He won 32 of the 58 games he started, putting up a 2.53 GAA and a .911 SV%. At the conclusion of the season came many accolades, including being named one of the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, finishing 4th in the Hart Trophy voting, and being named an NHL Second Team All-Star. Rinne also led the Predators to their first ever playoff series win in franchise history against the Anaheim Ducks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
On November 3, 2011, Rinne signed a 7-year deal worth $49 million, the largest contract in Nashville Predators team history at that time. During the 2011-12 season, Rinne set a franchise record with 11 consecutive wins, passing Tomas Vokoun's previous mark of 8. He led the NHL in wins, shots against, saves, and games played (73). In 73 games, he notched a 2.39 GAA and .923 SV%. On April 25, 2012, Rinne was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for the second consecutive year. He was also instrumental in the Predators triumphing over the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, once thought to be an impossible feat. On September 25, 2012 Rinne joined Dynamo Minsk of the KHL due to the impending NHL lockout. He will return to the Predators whenever the season starts.
Who Is the Greatest #35 in Preds History?
Eric Fichaud (3 votes)
Jan Lasak (5 votes)
Pekka Rinne (246 votes)
254 total votes