Juuse Saros is Primed for Another Vezina-Worthy Year
“Juice” is ready to rock.
2021-2022 Stats: 67 GP, 38-25-3, .918 Sv%, 2.64 GAA
Juuse Saros truly had a breakout season in 2021-2022. He’d never played a starter’s workload, and he handled the pressure incredibly well. Saros was a not-such-a-surprise Vezina Trophy nominee, and his play last season was enough to drag the Predators to the playoffs. An untimely ankle injury derailed Saros’s chances of starting for Nashville in the playoffs.
There’s not much to put in an article about Saros that hasn’t already been explained extensively by multiple media outlets, but it’s pretty clear that Saros is the reason Nashville remains successful. Ideally, beefed-up defense and some additional scoring will take some of the load of Saros - he can depend on less action in front of his net. He will remain Nashville’s warrior in net...I’m not trying to discount his impact in the coming season. Recent clips of Saros and new assistant goaltending coach Pekka Rinne indicate that Saros’s ankle is fully healed. Our friend Alex has an interview here:
Pekka Rinne with a glowing review of #Preds goalie Juuse Saros pic.twitter.com/0pVSmFlGpH— Michael Gallagher (@MGsports_) September 23, 2022
Saros is rocking the cheddar gold pads once more this season, and I’d say we can expect Kevin Lankinen to back up Saros. As I mentioned in Lankinen’s preview piece a few weeks back, Nashville is hoping for Lankinen to allow Saros a little more rest this season. Lankinen is not expected to be a savior or a 1B goalie. He’s just expected to allow some rest on back-to-backs and pre-playoffs for Saros. If he can’t do that, perhaps Connor Ingram gets a shot in gold?
For this coming season, I’d expect us to see Saros a little more “hungry.” If he plays the way he did last season, another Vezina nomination is certainly a possibility. Saros knows that Nashville’s goaltending pipeline is full of exciting talent in Connor Ingram, Tomas Vomacka, and Yaroslav Askarov. He’ll have a reliable backup for his next few seasons in Nashville, and this isn’t the right place to debate how Saros and Askarov could split the crease or fight for the starting job beyond 2023.
Spamming y’all with Peks and Juice sorry not sorry pic.twitter.com/OXyUliE6eN— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) September 23, 2022
One Bold Prediction
Maybe not a “bold” prediction in the sense that Saros finished third in Vezina voting last season, but I think Saros could take home a Vezina Trophy next summer. I also would like to see Saros take Nashville beyond the first round in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s got the skills, and he has nothing left to prove at the NHL level. “Juice” is very close to being the most talked-about netminder in the League. Saros is an elite goaltender and Nashville has found a few ways to boost their existing lineup in order to continue to chase a Cup.