Nashville Predators: Juuse Saros Might be Destined to be Traded

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) is congratulated by center Cody Glass (8) after an overtime win against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) is congratulated by center Cody Glass (8) after an overtime win against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

If you think last season was a massive overhaul by the Nashville Predators, just imagine what it would’ve been like if they also had dealt Juuse Saros.

According to a report from David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, the Nashville Predators and LA Kings were in serious trade discussions during the season that could’ve brought back multiple first round picks and prospects for Nashville:

The Kings are still in the hunt for a goaltender, so don’t dismiss the notion that talks can be reignited. Needless to say, a very cataclysmic decision for incoming General Manager Barry Trotz.

It all comes down to just how much does Trotz think this current roster can seriously compete for postseason success, or does he understand that this team is a few years away and needs a much bigger overhaul than just trading away a few veterans.

A Blockbuster Trade That Hasn’t Happened….Yet

There have always been rumblings from the fanbase that have grown louder and louder that Saros shouldn’t be off the table when talking about players to be traded. It now appears that at least one NHL front office was willing to engage with the possibility of attaining the Vezina Trophy caliber goaltender.

If this trade had gone down between the Predators and Kings, it would’ve had a high chance of being very beneficial for both clubs.

First from the Kings perspective, they would’ve received arguably one of the best goaltenders in the NHL in Saros in time for the playoff run. Instead the Kings received Joonas Korpisalo in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Korpisalo performed well for the Kings in the regular season but dipped to a .892 save percentage in six playoff starts to go along with a 3.77 GAA. Saros’ career playoff numbers in just 10 starts is a .914 save percentage and 2.63 GAA with five of those 10 starts being considered Quality Starts.

So it’s fair to say that if the Kings could’ve pulled Saros from the Predators, maybe their playoff run would’ve went deeper than a first round exit.

Korpisalo is now a UFA, so once again the Kings will be goalie shopping. Their only rostered goalie under contract for 2023-24 is Pheonix Copley.

As for the Predators if this trade had went down, obviously it would’ve signaled complete and total rebuild mode. Kevin Lankinen, who wasn’t too shabby as Saros’ backup, would’ve been named primary starter and almost certainly the Predators at least would’ve gotten a higher draft pick.

The Predators already have 13 draft picks in this upcoming draft, which they’re hosting in Nashville, so adding another haul for Saros would’ve set them up to really restock the cupboard for years to come.

How Bad Will the Nashville Predators be Without Saros?

It’s plain as day that the Nashville Predators have remained relevant during regular seasons and made many playoff appearances due to elite goaltending for many years from Pekka Rinne, and now passed on to Saros.

With all of the injuries and trades, there is no way the Predators even sniff the playoffs last season. In fact, they would’ve had much better odds of landing a top-10 generational talent draft pick, or even Connor Bedard. Which is why Saros’ name came up a lot from fans who were fully on board with “tanking”.

This trade talk surrounding Saros is going to keep lingering into 2023-24. Especially if the Predators remain middle of the pack and clearly not going anywhere far. It’s important to remember that it’s going to most likely take time for new Head Coach Andrew Brunette to mold this team into a legit playoff team again.

Saros’ biggest indicator of how vital he is to the Nashville Predators is his Goals Saved Above Expected, which he led the NHL in for 2022-23. He had a 46.7 Goals Saved Above Expected, which basically states that the Nashville Predators should’ve given up a crap ton more goals then they ended up surrendering.

Now to be fair, Lankinen was strong in this department as well with a 8.6 Goals Saved Above Expected in minimal backup duty, so it is logical to argue that he can be serviceable enough to keep the Predators from becoming the San Jose Sharks even without Saros.

Life after Saros might not be all that bad, actually. You’ve got a young core that you’re banking on to keep improving, especially under Brunette, and you’re really banking on the future being with Yaroslav Askarov in net. He might just be one more year away from full-time NHL status.

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Get used to the Saros trade talk rumors because they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.  He has just two more years left on his current deal at $5 million AAV, so it’s an easy contract to take on for a serious contender who needs a top tier goalie to get them over the hump.