In what has already been an impressive NHL career, Pekka Rinne is still out here setting impressive milestones as a member of the Nashville Predators.

In Monday’s 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Rinne tied Miikka Kiprusoff for the all-time lead in wins (319) by a Finnish born goalie. Rinne’s next win, which could come on Wednesday night against the Blues, would set the new record at 320.

And with plenty more wins to add to that number, to be sure.

It’s impressive anytime an NHL goalie moves into first place in any category, whether it’s wins, championships, shutouts, or anything else. What makes this even more impressive is the company that Rinne keeps when looking at the other big hockey nations.

Rinne will soon be one of the seven best NHL goalies of all time across the globe. Being the best Finnish born goalie is an accomplishment in itself, but being one of the world’s best? That’s legendary status.

Rinne has long been the Predators’s all-time best goalie, but he’s been slowly climbing the ranks of the all-time great goalies in the NHL. Rinne recently passed Ron Hextall (296), Tomas Vokoun (300), and Olaf Kolzig (303) on the all-time wins list. Up next is Nikolai Khabibulin (333), Rogie Vachon (353), and Evgeni Nabokov (353).

Passing some of the greatest Finnish goalies has to mean something a bit more to Rinne. During last season’s Vezina campaign, Rinne passed long time Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (310). He’s already well ahead of current Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (242) and 2010 Stanley Cup champion Antti Niemi (238).

Look at all those names Rinne has already passed. That’s keeping some great company.

So what’s the ceiling for Rinne? Well, if he earned at least 30 wins in each of the next three seasons (including this one), he would surpass the 400 win mark by the end of the 2020-21 season. That would put him just behind guys like Grant Fuhr (403), Glenn Hall (407), and Tony Esposito (423).

That’s not just great company. That’s Hall of Fame company.

When Rinne was drafted in the 2004 NHL Draft (in the 8th round, a round that doesn’t even exist anymore), I doubt David Poile and company anticipated they would be drafting the best goalie in franchise history. And they certainly couldn’t have anticipated Rinne would be the best Finnish goalie ever drafted into the NHL. Or even possibly a Hall of Fame goalie.

But after thirteen very successful years in the NHL, and at least three more to go, that’s exactly what Pekka Rinne has, and could eventually, become.

— All stats via Hockey-Reference.com. Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports — 

 

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