Predators’ Rinne close to ‘large’ deal with KHL

Playing without star goaltender Pekka Rinne for at least a month will be a big test for Carter Hutton and Magnus Hellberg, who have just one NHL victory between them. (AP)

NASHVILLE — This morning, Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne confirmed that he is close to an agreement with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL. Nothing is finalized yet, but he expects to head to Belarus later this week.

“I haven’t signed yet but I’m pretty close … Hopefully everything falls together today,” said Rinne, who has been training in Nashville with many of his teammates for the past weeks.

“You can’t replace games by practicing. You can’t create that same kind of traffic or create those bounces. If you just train, train, train, you lose your sharpness and edge. I just want to make sure I stay focused,” he said.

With Dinamo Minsk, Rinne will be reunited with Ari Hilly, his goaltending coach from Finland. The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist also mentioned that his contract offer to play in Minsk is “large.”

“It’s not the NHL but it’s a really good league,” Rinne said of the KHL, a league where many NHLers will be headed to during the lockout. “It’s going to be a different style of play – slower, more passing, more skill – but it’s going to be a good experience for me.”

There were reports this morning that confirmed Predators forward Patric Hornqvist signed on with Djurgarden in Sweden. Defenseman Roman Josi has gone back to Switzerland this week to play Bern. Hornqvist and Josi played their junior hockey with Djurgarden and Bern, respectively.

Martin Erat could be the next Predator to head overseas, as he will be making a decision soon. However, Mike Fisher will not be joining his teammates on the other side of the world during the lockout.

“I love hockey, I want to play, this is my passion, but it’s not my life. I have other things I enjoy doing,” said Fisher. “The fall is a good time for fishing and other things. That’s not to say we’re not going to work hard, but there are lots of other things we can enjoy.”