A lot has changed when it comes to the Nashville Predators since last season ended.
The team has a “new” general manager, Barry Trotz. Trotz was the team’s first head coach in franchise history and is looking to turn the Predators back into Cup contenders.
The club also has a new coach as they hired Andrew Brunette to right the ship. Brunette last helmed a bench with the Florida Panthers in the 2021-22 season, a year in which he led them to the league’s best record.
One thing that has not changed, however, is their starting goaltender. Juuse Saros will be the team’s main man in goal, and if the team wants to get back into the Stanley Cup playoffs this upcoming season, Saros, 28, is going to have to carry them.
I think Saros is going to once again be one of the league’s top masked men this season for several reasons. For starters, he has been one of the game’s most consistent starting goaltenders over the last several seasons.
His career numbers are one thing that proves that point. In 269 games, Saros is 147-95-0-27 with a 2.58 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage, and 20 shutouts.
His consistency has especially been great over the last two seasons. He played more than every other goaltender over the last two years, and last season, he led the league in total games, minutes played, and goals saved above expected.
Secondly, he is an elite goaltender. Last season, he finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting as the league’s top goaltender thanks to a season in which he went 33-23-0-7 with a 2.69 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage, and two shutouts.
Speaking of the Vezina Trophy, he finished sixth and fourth in voting in 2021 and 2022, respectively. As such, you can more than likely count on him to be a Vezina Trophy candidate for this upcoming season as well.
Lastly, under a new head coach and a new philosophy and playing style, the team should hopefully play better in front of him. Yes, Saros will be there to mop up the mistakes that his team makes, but with a new bench boss watching, the mistakes should hopefully be lessened this season.
Maybe this will be the year that Saros wins the Vezina and puts the Predators back in the playoffs where they belong.