The final payback from the Matthew Lombardi/Cody Franson trade came in the form of the 95th pick in today's NHL Draft, which the Nashville Predators used on Felix Girard, a forward from Baie Comeau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The right-handed shooting centerman enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2012-2013:
Preds Take Goalie at #99
Just a few minutes later, with the 99th pick (originally Buffalo's, acquired in the Paul Gaustad deal) the Preds stunned the world by selecting a short Finnish goaltender, Juuse Saros (listed at 5'9" on NHL.com). The Buffalo News provided a preview of what Saros might bring to the NHL:
The Finnish phenom backstopped his country to a bronze medal at the under-18 world championships, making 24 saves against host Russia in the third-place game. His best outing came during the preliminary round when he stymied the United States with 49 stops during a 2-1 upset of the Americans. He finished the tournament at 5-2-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .946 save percentage.
Saros excels at stopping rebounds. He was the best goalie in Finland's junior league, but he's yet to face adult competition. The inexperience and lack of size are his main drawbacks.
The Hockey Writers also features commentary from a wide variety of sources on Saros' game:
Over the years, Saros has proven himself to be a dependable netminder, despite all of the knocks against his height. Even though Saros might not have the optimal height for a goalie, he certainly makes the most use out of his natural ability. Not only is the Finnish netminder more than adept at playing his angles and remaining positionally sound, he plays a hybrid style of goaltending and can switch to and from the butterfly style when necessary. Although some might point to the fact that Saros leaves the top portion of the net exposed when he takes away the low ice from shooters, the goalie will have time to adapt to more experienced shooters in the SM-liiga and will undoubtedly tweak his positional play to combat some of his flaws.
He may be small, but it looks like he's in good shape:
WIth those two picks out of the way, the Predators then traded away the 112th selection to the St. Louis Blues, moving down to the #203 spot this year, and picking up a 4th-round pick next summer as well.