Born November 3, 1982 (age 28) in Kempele, Finland
Goaltender for the Nashville Predators
Let’s show some love for the Preds, shall we? Peks, as the name on his mask says, began his hockey career in his native Finland, where he played for Oulun Kärpät’s junior and men’s teams (where he was Niklas Bäckström’s understudy). He was picked in the 8th round of the 2004 NHL Draft (there was an 8th round back then?) and was sent to Nashville’s AHL team, the Milwaukee Admirals. While there, he started out as backup for the Admirals’ goalie, but he was so bad that Peks became their starter. But in the summer of 2006, he was beat up and suffered a dislocated shoulder. The surgery he had for it made him miss the first four months of the season.
Fast forward to 2008, where the Preds’ goalie, Dan Ellis, had an awesome year and backup goalie Chris Mason…well, he went to St. Louis. Peks became the Preds’ official backup and racked up a shutout that December, the second rookie goaltender in franchise history to do so. By March he’d gotten his seventh shutout and was given a slot on the 2009 Worlds team for Finland. His first game there? Shutout.
The 2010-11 season didn’t start out so well, though – he suffered a lower-body injury after colliding with Troy Brodie of the Ducks and sat out three games before returning. Bad timing, because he had to sit out again. But he returned at the end of December and stayed healthy, leading the Preds to the playoffs and being named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. I think we’ll be hearing quite a bit from him this fall.