Predators reward Rinne with seven-year, $49 million deal

The Nashville Predators on Thursday inked year, $49 million contract -- the largest in franchise history.

Rinne, celebrating his 29th birthday on Thursday, finished second in voting for the Vezina Trophy last season after posting a 33-22-9 record with a 2.12 goals-against average. He also had six shutouts.

In the final year of his current deal, Rinne would have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

"Today's signing is further evidence of our ownership's commitment to keeping our core intact," Predators GM David Poile said. "This is the first step of a process designed to retain our key players and leaders. Pekka has grown with our franchise, just recently established our franchise record for career shutouts and is now recognized as one of the game's elite players. We're thrilled to know that he will be backstopping our franchise for several years to come."

Rinne enters Thursday's action against Phoenix with a record of 5-4-2 and a 2.50 GAA in 11 games this season. He has registered his 21st and 22nd shutouts this year to move into first on the franchise's all-time list.

Nashville's eighth-round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Rinne has a 100-58-20 record with a 2.34 GAA in 188 career games with the Predators. He helped Nashville to its first-ever playoff series win last spring with a first-round triumph against Anaheim.