NASHVILLE — Pekka Rinne is not committed to finishing his NHL career with the Nashville Predators.
The goalie can become an unrestricted free agent July 28 and said Wednesday that he will not rule out the possibility of signing with another team or retiring.
The 38-year-old has played his entire 15-season NHL career with the Predators.
“To be honest with you, I want to give it some time and want to take a step after the season and think about things with my family,” Rinne said. “What do I want to do? Obviously it’s a thing that I’m thinking about a lot, but I’m not ready to make a decision yet.”
He also did not rule out the idea of playing for another NHL team.
“I don’t want to close any doors, to be honest with you,” Rinne said. “I’ve always said this is my team and I feel like it makes me proud that I’ve played for only one team and one organization. But at the same time I don’t want to close any door. I don’t want to say anything that I’m going to regret. I want to keep that door open too and weigh my options here.”
Juuse Saros became the Predators’ starting goaltender this season and went 21-11-1 with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in 36 games (35 starts), and played all six games in the Predators’ loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup First Round.
Rinne was 10-12-1 with a 2.84 GAA and a .907 save percentage in 24 games (21 starts). If he were to return to the Predators it would likely be in a backup role.
Selected by the Predators in the eighth round (No. 258) in the 2004 NHL Draft, Rinne is 369-213-75 with a 2.43 GAA and a .917 save percentage in 683 NHL games (667 starts). He holds Predators regular-season records for games played, minutes (39,413:29), wins and shutouts (60). He’s also started 89 of Nashville’s 121 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and has 45 of the Predators’ 54 playoff wins.
“Obviously, No. 1, to play at this level, it’s the passion,” Rinne said. “You know how much work needs to be done and put into. Those things, to me, that’s the most important thing. Just the love for the game and the passion, and I feel like I still have that. And then obviously my family, they love to see me play. But there is a lot of things. I try to factor in every possible scenario and also have a few options. I feel like I need to take my time. I’m thinking about it all the time, but I’m not stressing. I’m in a good place.”
Rinne said he has plans to meet with Predators general manager David Poile in a few weeks to discuss his future. There have been reports that Rinne could sign with Karpat in Liiga, the top professional league in his home country of Finland. Rinne played three seasons with Karpat before coming to North America in 2005-06.
“For sure it’s an option to go back home and play over there,” Rinne said. “I’ve seen the rumors, my hometown team. Yeah, it’s an option for sure. But you’ve played a long time in the NHL and ideally that’s a place where I want to retire, at the highest level. So we’ll see about that.”
Forward Filip Forsberg and defenseman Mattias Ekholm each has one season remaining on his contract and is eligible to sign an extension during the offseason, and they expressed a desire Wednesday to have those discussions. Forsberg and Ekholm can become unrestricted free agents after the 2021-22 season.