Juuse Saros Starting to Take Control as Predators’ Starter

Goaltender Juuse Saros #74 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Goaltender Juuse Saros #74 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

In the 2013 NHL Draft, Juuse Saros was selected by the Nashville Predators in the 4th round at 99th overall. He’s always been considered the next man up after Pekka Rinne retires.

Saros has been the “heir apparent” for a while now behind Rinne. It was always a matter of “when’ and not “if” Saros will eventually take over for Rinne as the primary starter in net for the Predators.

Saros has been a regular behind Rinne for the past couple of seasons now, with his last time for the Milwaukee Admirals coming in the 2017-18 season when he put up a 2.88 GAA in nine games played.

The journey to get here

Saros started off on the Nashville Predators roster in the 2016-17 season. He played 21 games that season with a 10-8-3 record.

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The next season, he played 26 games with a 11-5-7 record. He’s gradually shown improvement as his starts have increased each season.

Last season, Peter Laviolette worked with Saros to help him preform better on the ice. By the end of the season, Saros showed us that he is good enough to play more and more games and win more and more games.

It’s been a long road  to get Saros to where he is now as having the team’s primary starting role, or at least as it appears.

Saros has played 35 games this season, with 30 starts. Those 30 starts are a new career high, with his previous high being 27 starts last season.

If the Predators make the playoffs, he’ll likely get his first career start in the playoffs. And it’s been a really cool thing to see Rinne be so supportive and an excellent teammate.

In his last five games, Saros has won three (Flames, Senators, and Blue Jackets) and lost two (Hurricanes and Avalanche). He’s posted save percentages above 92 percent in four of those five games.

His GAA is 2.89 and his SVS% is .907 (Compared to Pekka Rinne at a GAA of 3.00 and a SVS% of .900).

Getting more time under John Hynes

Head Coach John Hynes has definitely let Saros play more games than Laviolette did. Saros has shown to us and the coaching staff that he’s strong enough to be a starting goaltender on a regular basis.

He has room to improve to eventually be “Rinne Quality”, but this doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be a split starting goaltender on the team. I think he is fully capable of being a starter ahead of Rinne.

In the past few weeks, Saros has done immensely better than the rest of the season. It usually takes him a few months to get in a good winning pace, but now he’s giving the Predators quality starts and a better chance to win the game. He’s had tremendous saves and well-deserved wins this season.

"“Saros played a strong game Saturday, something that seems to be happening with much more frequency of late. The knock on Saros has always been his height — he’s just 5-foot-10 in a land of super-tall twinetenders. But these performances show the Preds he should be the top dog in 2020-21.” (RotoWire Staff cbssports.com)"

Saros isn’t the tallest goaltender in the league, but he is showing us that he’s definitely as good as some top notch goalies. Henrik Lundqvist, an all-time great, has a save percentage is .904 (Juuse’s is HIGHER!).

The Predators are in a playoff position narrowly right now, but to maintain this playoff spot the team as a whole is going to have to play solid in front of Saros.

Saros knows how to protect his net, but the defense has to keep making gradual improvements with Ryan Ellis back in the lineup finally.

Being a slight bias when I say that Saros is my favorite player, but he is a steady and very capable starting goaltender for the team. He is going to be playoff ready, and he already is.

Saros has shown that he’s ready to be the franchise goaltender for life after Rinne. It will be fun to see how he finishes the season off getting most of the starts.

Next. A Deep Dive into the Puzzling Season for Viktor Arvidsson. dark

The Preds play tonight at 7pm against the Edmonton Oilers in the first game of a back-to-back. Saros will start tomorrow night against the Minnesota Wild.