Nashville Predators: Juuse Saros Signs Smashing Four-Year Extension

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) after a win against the Florida Panthers at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) after a win against the Florida Panthers at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Today is the day Nashville Predators fans! The day that ends the “will they, won’t they?” bar top conversations. The agonizing speculation of low ball offers, under-appreciation of a job well done, and anticipation of the most critical move of the Preds off-season.

Today, Juuse Saros and the Nashville Predators agreed to a four-year, $20 million extension with a $5 million average annual value.

There should be “Whoville” at Christmas time levels of jubilation abound from this fan base given not just the announcement of the extension, but also the term, dollars, message, and timing of it.

Let’s break down the most important aspects of Saros remaining in Smashville attached to this well-deserved extension for the 26-year-old Finnish netminder.

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TORCH = PASSED for Nashville Predators goaltending

The most common cliché used over the past couple of seasons had to have been the theme of passing the torch from now-retired Predators legend, Pekka Rinne (still can’t quite type it without tearing up but moving on literally) to Saros.

With an extension now officially in place for “Juice”, we can say the process of that torch being passed is now complete.

It is a process that Predators fans from all walks of life can only appreciate given many teams’ inability to find consistent top tier goaltending for long periods of time. The Predators have been blessed to seamlessly transition from top-caliber goaltender to top-caliber goaltender with neither coming as a highly lauded first-round pick in the NHL entry draft.

Rinne being an 8th-round selection in 2004, and Saros a 4th-rounder in 2013.

Unless the Predators have the next Andrei Vasilevskiy on their hands with fellow countrymen Yaroslav Askarov, (here’s hoping they do) the team’s ability to not only identify talent between the pipes in later rounds, but develop them into upper echelon goaltenders is a blessing that needs to be acknowledged with every win, and on-ice organizational accomplishment.

Askarov’s draft stature and placement (11th overall, in 2020) certainly play into the term and investment given to Saros, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it and allow a little breathing room before more talk of torch-passing takes place in the Nashville Predator’s crease.

It is Saros’ net for the foreseeable future and given his performance thus far in Predators gold, all of Smashville should be incredibly excited about that.

The Here and Now

Given the unprecedented level of turnover the Predators have gone through this offseason, a stabilizing presence in the most important position on the ice is certainly welcome. Especially given Saros’s excellent play this past season that earned him both Vezina and Hart trophy consideration proving him among the league’s not just most elite goaltenders but also, most valuable players across the entire league.

Saros’ numbers speak for themselves, despite a slower start (more so due to the play in front of him), the fifth-year netminder posted career highs in:

  • Wins with 21
  • Goals Against Average (GAA) 2.28
  • Save Percentage (SV%) 0.927
  • Not to mention back-to-back 50+ save performances in the Preds first-round series giving them a chance to beat the top-seeded Carolina Hurricanes.

Each of these career highs and milestones further proves why he was deserving of this extension and why Predators fans, given the nature of his development and current state of the team, should feel incredibly blessed to have Saros be the keeper of the net as the team continues to retool and get younger.

Comparing this contract to others

This extension is eyebrow-raising for a lot of reasons. Most of them are good for both the player and the Predators, but given Saros’ pedigree of experience and performance in comparison to goaltenders around the NHL who have signed with new teams and/or extensions as of late.

  • New York Rangers: Igor Shesterkin, 4 years, $22.66 million, $5.667 AAV
  • Boston Bruins: Linus Ullmark, 4 years, $20 million, $5 million AAV
  • Philadelphia Flyers: Carter Hart, 3 years, $11.937 million, $3.979 AAV
  • Vancouver Canucks: Thatcher Demko, 5 years, $25 million, $5 million AAV

*All information provided by CapFriendly

When taking into account names, ages, performance, experience, and any other extraneous variable, the Predators are doing extremely well on this deal with Saros given the names in the list above.

Flexibility is the name of the game and with Saros only taking up 6.14% of the Predators salary cap, it sets them up very well to lock up internal contracts as well as explore opportunities to add an additional impact piece at any time over the duration of the deal.

However, when evaluating each deal, the question that must be answered is if it is good for the player as well? Given his performance, not just this past season but his overall progression to becoming the indisputable starting goaltender for the Nashville Predators, Saros has earned a very nice pay raise in addition to the opportunity to prove he is worth an even bigger money deal by the time this one expires at the end of the 2024-25.

With the Predators current state of goaltending, the direction of the team, and a seemingly prodigal son in the pipeline in Askarov, this is a very good move both in term and dollars that eliminates any question for the short to medium term for the Predators and Saros.

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Whether he continues to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, and fellow countryman in Pekka Rinne in terms of performance and career longevity with one franchise remains to be seen and will depend largely on his performance over the duration of this contract.

One thing is for certain, however, and that is he is well on his way to matching his predecessor step for step or rather save for save, and Predators fans worldwide should be very happy about that.