Nashville Predators: What to Do with Juuse Saros

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07: Juuse Saros /

Pekka Rinne is reaching the end of his career, and as of now, his struggling backup Juuse Saros seems to be far from NHL ready.

Juuse Saros, the Nashville Predators 22-year-old back up goalie is in a rut right now. The Nashville Predators drafted Saros 99th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The 5’11” 180 lb Finnish goalie was the top ranked European goalie by most scouts that year. Scouts raved about his athleticism and toughness, despite his small stature.

In his one full AHL season, Saros started 38 games. He won 29 of them, and finished with a .920 save percentage, a 2.24 GAA, and 4 shutouts. In the minors, Saros looked phenomenal. He was smaller than the average goalie, but he made up for it with fantastic technique and a great skillset built off his quick athleticism. He appeared to be NHL ready at just 20 years old.

Last season, Saros split time between Nashville and Milwaukee. He won 13/15 starts, allowed only 1.86 goals per game, and had a .934 save percentage. In Nashville, Saros won 10/19 starts, had a .923 save percentage, and a 2.35 GAA.

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After boasting great AHL numbers, and good enough NHL numbers, the Predators decided to make Saros the full-time backup this season. The numbers are there, he’s young, and a backup is needed.

So why is he struggling so much right now?

In 3 starts this season, Saros has 3 losses. 3 bad losses…





Saros sits with a .817 save percentage and a 4.36 GAA as of now. It’s only 3 games into the season, but then again, that’s 3 full hockey games.

Simply put, when Saros is in net right now, the Predators are putting themselves behind the 8-ball. Pekka Rinne’s two losses this year were 1 goal games, so when the Predators lose with Rinne, it’s at least close.

When the Predators lose with Saros, it’s ugly.

What to Do?

Rinne isn’t going to be around forever. The 35-year-old is in his 12th NHL season. He’s an old man for NHL goalies. There has been no indication of his retirement yet, but you’ve got to think that it will be within the next 2 or 3 years.

If the front office doesn’t think that Saros is the answer for the future, they need to act now. If they want to trade for another goalie, the clock is ticking. They would much rather know who the future goalie is, before Rinne hangs up the skates.

In the AHL, the Milwaukee Admirals have Anders Lindback, 29, and Matt O’Conner, 25. Lindback, who played for the Predators back from 2010-2012, seems to be the clear favorite right now, as he has started 6/7 games for the Admirals this season. Lindback sits now with a .909 save percentage, a 2.34 GAA, and 5 wins.

Solid numbers, and possibly NHL-worthy. However, like I said, Lindback is 29. Not ancient, but certainly not a kid anymore.

So What’s Next?

Sure, Saros is badly struggling right now. However, he will most like have at least 15 more starts this year. Rinne is a superhero most nights, but he still needs to rest every once in a while.

Give Saros his time. He didn’t just suddenly forget how to play goalie. He has always been one of the top goalies for his age. Oh and while we’re on age, let’s just remember, JUUSE SAROS IS ONLY 22 YEARS OLD.

There is no real reason to panic right now. Thinking about the future is great, but Rinne isn’t gone yet. Let’s all take a deep breath.

Maybe this offseason, the front office will shop Saros around a bit. He is still a very young and talented goalie with 10+ years ahead of him. That’s an investment worth making for a lot of teams.

Maybe the front office goes looking for a goalie in free agency. Who knows what David Poile will do.

Next: Nashville Predators: Kevin Fiala playing well, goals will come

For now, let’s all calm down and let Juuse work out of this slump. Predators are heading out west, Halloween is coming, and the Blackhawks look awful right now. All is well.