Nashville Predators: To Trade or Not to Trade Juuse Saros at NHL Trade Deadline?
In hilarious fashion, the Nashville Predators continue to troll the segment of the fanbase that wants everything ripped apart and to start over. For whatever reason, this team refuses to go away completely, and it’s usually thanks to stellar goaltending from Juuse Saros.
In fact, sometimes all it takes is the backup goaltender to steal a win for the dramatically inconsistent Nashville Predators.
Even after an unexpected offensive barrage from the Nashville Predators in a 7-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday, the prevailing belief is that the Predators will be sellers in some capacity at the trade deadline.
We’ve heard several names thrown out there including Dante Fabbro, Mattias Ekholm, Tanner Jeannot and Mikael Granlund.
Heck, even Roman Josi has been tossed out there, even though that is unfathomable.
However, if you really want to swing for the fences and catch the attention of the masses, trading your beloved franchise goaltender in Saros would certainly move the needle.
Saros is the Most Valuable Trade Piece for the Nashville Predators
Undoubtedly, Saros is the most lucrative trade piece the Nashville Predators have. Trading him away would bring back some valuable assets including starters, prospects and draft picks. All would be on the table to get in return.
This would clearly signal from the front office that drastic change is needed and the current direction the organization is going is the opposite of where you want to be going. Saros is the overwhelming factor into why this team always hangs around the playoff bubble and sprinkles in impressive wins to get people talking again.
Kevin Lankinen has shown to be arguably the best offseason acquisition the Predators made last summer. He has made a lot of teams look foolish by not signing him as their primary starter, while the Predators swooped in and made them Saros’ backup.
With that laid out there, is there a path forward with Lankinen and not Saros? Michael Gallagher of The Nashville Post brought this point up:
I think it’s certainly worth considering, but is obviously a very bold move that takes on a heavy risk factor. Lankinen will be a UFA this offseason, so you have to make sure you can retain him otherwise you’re out two quality goaltenders in a short amount of time. Then what?
Saros’ contract, on the other hand, has two more years left at an insane bargain of just $5 million per year. Another reason teams would be chomping at the bit to acquire Saros and would offer the Predators a boat load of assets in return.
Ultimately I can’t see this happening, but it’s not completely unheard of if the Predators lose say, five of their next six games leading up to the trade deadline? Here’s their remaining schedule before March 3:
Feb 19: @ Minnesota
Feb 21: vs Vancouver
Feb 23: @ San Jose
Feb 26: @ Arizona
Feb 28: vs Pittsburgh
March 2: @ Florida
A pretty favorable list of opponents, but again we know the Predators love to lose to teams you think they should handle easily.
To get a seismic trade like dealing Saros, the Predators would have to completely fall apart and lose five of these six, and lose them in really ugly fashion.
General Manager David Poile is almost guaranteed to be a seller in some way, but just how much he decides to sell is probably predicated on these next six games and where the Nashville Predators remain in the playoff hunt.
The big issue with selling right now is you don’t have a plethora of high-end assets to offer the market right now. Aside from Saros, Ekholm is definitely your next most valuable piece, followed by Jeannot and even Nino Niederreiter shouldn’t be left out of the equation.
This is why Saros is intriguing to think about. Because the Predators aren’t going to get much in return for most of their trade pieces they offer. Some draft picks, maybe a quality prospect or depth player. That’s it.
As of now ahead of their matchup with the Minnesota Wild, a team they’re chasing for a playoff spot, the Predators sit five points out with games in hand and 29 games remaining.