I know it’s odd to see Juuse Saros on this list considering he’s already been on the Predators for a while now, and you can argue he’s already had his “breakout moments” and stretches.
But now the next step for Saros is putting together an entire season’s worth of quality starts that can directly impact getting the Predators back into the top tier of the Western Conference.
Goaltending, for many reasons, took a big dip this past season. That’s why the Predators aren’t in the Edmonton bubble anymore, and their stay was very brief.
For it to be considered a “breakout” season for Saros in 2021, he’s going to need to show everyone that Pekka Rinne is for sure the backup. He has to put those thoughts to rest that Rinne will have to be called upon once again as the starter to save the day and find the fountain of youth.
Saros has the skills and fortitude to go down the same successful path that Rinne once went down over a decade ago. Depending on how long the regular season ends up being next season, Saros should get over half the starts and be the main guy called upon.
I’m looking for Saros to get his save percentage above 92 and steer clear of the numerous starts of giving up three or more goals. He has to become that goaltender that can steal games from time to time when the team as a whole isn’t at their best.
These are some players that I think can definitely crack the starting roster and begin to make a name for themselves on the NHL level.
Most notably, Eeli Tolvanen should get a great opportunity to finally stick around on the Predators everyday roster, and possibly even charge his way into the top-six of the roster depending on what happens in free agency.
I like the thought of getting Alexandre Carrier onto the third defensive pairing as he’ll bring more offensive skills to a spot on the defense that has had virtually zero offensive punch for two seasons now.
Finally, I’ll be very surprised if Philip Tomasino doesn’t at some point get called up to the Predators roster. Maybe not for opening night of the regular season, but at some point in 2021.