It’s hard to believe that we are already at the midway point of the 2020-21 NHL season. It is time to start handing out our midseason grades for the Nashville Predators. Up next is goaltender Juuse Saros.
This season was supposed to be Saros’ breakout year, taking Pekka Rinne’s reigns and becoming the undisputed starting goaltender.
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Things just haven’t worked out that way so far.
Whether it has been defensive lapses by teammates or lack of focus, this season has not gone according to plan for Saros, who has been dubbed the heir apparent to Rinne.
Last Season Surge Didn’t Carry Over
Towards the end of last season, Saros was one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. He had back to back shutouts against Dallas and was poised for the handoff from Rinne,
Once the Stanley Cup Qualifiers took place and Saros saw starts in all four games that the Predators played against Arizona, questions arose about his future as a franchise goaltender.
During the extended offseason, it became apparent that Saros would need to elevate his game to prove that he was ready to be the starter.
Once the season got rolling along, and we saw just how bad this Predators team was and that the struggles carried over to goaltending, it became apparent that the Predators may have some issues in the future at this position.
Remainder Of The Season And Beyond
Saros was injured in the March 2 game against Carolina and has missed seven straight games. He is traveling with the team and should be making a return against the Florida Panthers this week.
Saros has had some terrific wins this season but has also suffered some terrible losses. His GAA now sits at 3.10, and his SV% is .895, very similar to Rinne’s numbers.
While we can’t pin Saros’ tough season on him alone, we haven’t seen the flashes of brilliance as we have out of his mentor in Rinne. He just hasn’t shown us enough to make us feel comfortable with him at the helm in the future. A future that also includes an impending rebuild of the team.
With the possibility of a Rinne retirement at the end of this season, some feel that Saros might not be ready to be the full-time starter or the franchise’s future at goaltender.
The offseason may see the Predators acquiring a journeyman veteran to split the starts with Saros. We also have to look at the impact of Predators’ draftee, Yaroslav Askarov’s arrival in a couple of years.
JUUSE SAROSGoaltender, Nashville Predators
The position of goaltender is one that coaches need to have some level of comfort in. With each game that Saros starts, we are never sure what kind of performance we will see.
There is no doubt that the Predators will soon be going through some sort of team rebuild. Maybe as the team navigates through a rebuild, it will provide Saros with the opportunity to reset along with the rest of the team.
This season is proving to be a challenge for Saros, a challenge that could alter the trajectory of his position and future with the Predators.