Juuse Saros solidified himself as the Nashville Predators’ starting netminder this season. What could his next contract look like?
As a reminder, Juuse Saros is 26 years old. Here’s his NHL body of work:
Last season was truly Saros’s “coming out” season. After his return from a concussion, he was practically imperturbable. He was Nashville’s backbone as they clawed their way from the League’s basement to a playoff berth.
Saros’s numbers for high-danger shots aren’t excellent, nor is his rebound control on the level of a goalie like Robin Lehner or Connor Hellebuyck. However, his 5-on-5 numbers are certainly in the top of the League.
74’s Last Contract
Saros is coming off a three year, $4.5 million contract. Back in 2018, I predicted Saros’s current contract. I came in a little low, but what’s striking to me about this piece is how much the Nashville goaltending pipeline has changed.
Gone are Troy Grosenick, Miroslav Svoboda, Matt O’Connor, Anders Lindback, and Niclas Westerholm.
New guys like Ethan Haider, Yaroslav Askarov, Connor Ingram, Tomas Vomacka, and Devin Cooley represent some of Nashville’s goaltending future.
74’s Next Contract
In 2018, I predicted that Saros’s next deal would be longer. I wasn’t expecting a flat salary cap or a talent like Yaroslav Askarov in Nashville’s prospect pool. No matter how things change, Saros needs a 4-5 year contract this summer.
Here’s some comparable goalie contracts that Saros could use during his negotiations. For what it’s worth, I picture Saros sitting quietly while his agent works with the Predators’ front office. While they discuss dollars, Saros is thinking about his blue ice, Pekka Rinne, and puppies.
Joonas Korpisalo of the Columbus Blue Jackets is on a two-year, $5.6 million deal.
Thatcher Demko’s deal with the Vancouver Canucks is “5x5”—5 years, $5 million per year. He’s had a rough go in terms of injury, but his contract is a very good comparable.
What about a deal for Juuse Saros that looks like this? 4 years, $4.5 million? 5 years, $4.75 million? I can see Nashville seeking 4 or 5 years on this next deal, but I don’t expect Saros’s deal to be worth more than $5 million annually.
Many on “Preds Facebook” likely feel that Saros is worth a longer contract or a higher average annual value (AAV). While this might be the case, Predators management has to be realistic. Yaroslav Askarov’s contract with SKA in the KHL goes through 2022. He’s 19 years old. Could Askarov spend 2022-2023 with the Milwaukee Admirals and then make the leap to Nashville?
I feel that Saros’s next contract will be a reflection of what the organization is thinking regarding Askarov, Ingram, and Vomacka. Further, the organization has to manage the flat cap. Unless Seattle drafts a Nashville player who has a large cap hit, the Predators have to manage what space they have to re-sign players like Mikael Granlund, Eeli Tolvanen, and Dante Fabbro. The organization might want some cash to sign some free agent players, too.
The 2021 NHL Entry Draft has some interesting goaltender prospects. Nashville will likely use one of their 7 picks to draft another goalie. Would Nashville be interested in Tristan Lennox or Aku Koskenvuo? What if a goalie prospect like Benjamin Gaudreau fell in the draft and was available somewhere in the third round?
It’s in the best interest of Nashville to lock down Juuse Saros through age 29 or 30. It is more than evident that his best years are right on the horizon.
However, we know that goalies are voodoo. Predicting their performance, contracts, or literally anything involving a goalie makes me (and every other writer) look dumb at some future time.
My final guess is a 4-year, $4.5 million dollar deal. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments section.