Rinne Named World Championship MVP; Jones the Best Defenseman as Five Preds Medal
Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 World Championship after an impressive tournament that saw him carry Finland to a silver medal on Sunday in Minsk, Belarus. Predators defenseman Seth Jones was named Best Defenseman in his World Championship debut after leading all blueliners and tying for fifth among all skaters in points (2g-9a-11pts).
Both Rinne and Jones were also named to the Media All-Star Team and one of the three best players on their respective teams, accolades also picked up by Preds defensemen Mattias Ekholm (Sweden) and Roman Josi (Switzerland), and forward Craig Smith (United States).
Though Rinne and the Finns fell in the Gold Medal Game to Russia by a 5-2 score, the two-time Vezina Trophy finalist finished the tournament with a 6-3 record, 1.88 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and three shutouts. Though many prognosticators overlooked Team Suomi due to a lack of NHL talent, Rinne, as well as Predators prospects Miikka Salmaki and Juuse Saros helped the nation advance to its second World Championship Final in the past four years. Salomaki recorded a pair of points (1g-1a), 18 penalty minutes and a +3 rating in 10 games after leading Nashville’s AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, in points during the 2013-14 season. Saros did not see action as Finland’s third goalie, but was one of the five youngest players participating in the tournament.
Also bringing home medals were Ekholm and Calle Jarnkrok thanks to a 3-0 win by the Swedes over the Czech Republic in the Bronze Medal Game. Ekholm collected an assist and posted a +1 rating in 24:00 of ice time in the victory to finish tied with Josi for second in points among tournament defensemen (2g-5a-7pts). Jarnkrok posted a +3 rating in 10 tournament games.
Though Team USA bowed out in the quarterfinals, Jones led the nation in points as well as tying for fifth among all skaters in plus/minus rating (+8) and among the leaders in average ice time (25:38). This is Smith’s third time in the last four years being named one of the U.S.’s best players at the World Championship; he finished fourth on the team in points (3g-5a-8pts) and tied for third in goals. In 29 career World Championship games since 2011, the 2009 fourth-round pick has 30 points (10g-20a).
After claiming World Championship MVP and Best Defenseman honors a year ago, Josi tied for third among blueliners in points (1g-6a-7pts) in 2014 despite the Swiss not making it to the playoff round. He also led the Swiss in points, assists and average ice time (25:06), nearly four minutes more than his next closest teammate.
Also participating in the tournament were Ryan Ellis, who led all Team Canada defensemen in points (1g-4a-5pts) and tied for fifth in the tournament in plus/minus rating (+8), and Simon Moser (Switzerland), who notched a pair of assists in seven games.
Representing the Nashville Predators on the United States’ coaching staff were Head Coach Peter Laviolette, Assistant Coach Phil Housley and Video Coach Lawrence Feloney brining the organization’s delegation up to 13 at tournament.