Juuse Saros (2017-2018)
The last big rookie splash for the Nashville Predators was Juuse Saros’ technical rookie campaign in 2017-18. The season after the Predators went to the Stanley Cup Final.
Saros had to grow up fast even before his technical rookie season. He had to come in for a struggling Pekka Rinne in the Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins in two games that series, with one of those instances seeing him give up three goals on 15 shots faced.
But after that season Saros would 23 games as fans started to realize that Rinne was starting to fade. There was an enormous amount of pressure on Saros right from the start having to follow up Rinne’s legacy.
Saros would make the NHL All-Rookie Team by putting up a .925 save percentage and a 2.45 GAA, while also adding in three shutouts. It looked like the Predators once again found their franchise goaltender.
There’s been some fair criticism on Saros that he’s too streaky and possibly not the future for the Predators at goaltender. However, as of late Saros is once again showing he can be a top-tier NHL goaltender, and his original rookie season definitely showed that from the start.
Here’s my top-five of best rookie seasons in Nashville Predators history:
- Filip Forsberg (2014-15)
- Pekka Rinne (2008-09)
- Alexander Radulov (2006-07)
- Eeli Tolvanen (Current)
- Craig Smith (2011-12)
I’m already putting Tolvanen in my top-five because I have no doubt that if he would’ve started the season in the lineup on opening night that he’d right near a point-per-game pace, which only Forsberg has ever done as a rookie.