The Nashville Predators will turn to Juuse Saros again this season to carry a heavy workload and to perform in a way that will keep a team with high expectations happy. The 27-year-old, 5’11, 180lbs goaltender saw his workload increase last year and will likely see that same trend this year. Before diving into workload management, let’s look at how last year played out.
2021-2022 Regular Season
Saros led the NHL last year in total games played as a goaltender – playing in 67 games. This workload is in line with the likes of Connor Hellebucyck and Thatcher Demko. In those 67 games, Saros posted a 2.64 GAA average and a .918 save percentage. He finished 3rd during this campaign in wins with a total of 38 wins. The only goaltenders with more wins last year were Sergei Bobrosvksy and Andrei Vasilevski.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. The Predators were full steam ahead towards a Stanley Cup Playoff run to remember when his unreal season ended after landing awkwardly on his leg during the third period of the Calgary Flames game. Saros addressed that frustration and gave an update on the status of his health heading into the 2022-2023 season.
It was frustrating, We were kind of waiting for those games to come, and [I got] injured right before that. Obviously, that was super frustrating. I felt good the whole season, and my body and mind were healthy, and I really enjoyed playing a lot, but of course, when that kind of stuff happens, you’ve got to add a few more things in your workout routine that maintain your body and keep it strong.Saros on his season ending injury last season
Looking Forward to 2022-2023
A smiling Saros addressed the media a week ago and told folks he’s feeling “All good” and that he’s “Excited for the new season, so it’s good to be back and see all the guys.” It’s good to hear that Soros is feeling good because his workload will likely be similar again this year as the clear NHL starter on the roster.
The question remains, can he stay healthy enough to play that heavy of a workload and be ready for a post-season run? The truth is that question is subjective. Ideally, the Predators could manage the workload a bit more by playing Lankinen. Kevin Lankinen is also a 27-year-old goaltender who spent two seasons in the Chicago system. He played in 69 games, winning only 25 and posting a measly 3.23 goals against average. While Lankinen isn’t going to push Saros for his job, it is possible that having a backup goaltender who can take strategic games will help with the longevity of his season.
The Answer: He Can Do It
Saros is built for the chaos of a long season, and according to his interview earlier this pre-season, he relishes it. “I felt good the whole season, and my body and mind were healthy, and I really enjoyed playing a lot,” he said. “But of course, when that kind of stuff happens, you’ve got to add a few more things in your workout routine that maintain your body and keep it strong.”
With the balance of the season on the line, and if he can stay healthy, Saros is poised to help the Predators make a deep playoff run this year.