The Nashville Predators, as expected, have signed restricted free agent goaltender Juuse Saros to a new contract. As initially reported by Elliotte Friedman, the deal is worth $20 million over four years for an annual yearly average of $5 million.
Nashville and Juuse Saros have a four-year, $20M extension to avoid arbitration
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 16, 2021
Saros was scheduled for an arbitration hearing this week, as was defenseman Dante Fabbro. But, like Fabbro, the Preds managed to avoid an arbitration headache by signing Saros ahead of time. Fabbro signed a two year, $4.8 million deal on August 5th.
Here’s why the final contract details for Saros and the Predators are a win-win for both sides.
Juuse Saros deserved to get paid
There’s only one player responsible for the Nashville Predators making the playoffs last season: Juuse Saros.
Saros was the MVP of the Preds last season and it’s not really that close. He finished with 21 wins in 35 starts, putting up a .928 save percentage and a 2.28 goals allowed average. He finished 6th in Vezina Trophy votes (he should have been much higher) and 11th in Hart Trophy voting.
Especially because of his play in the 2nd half of the season, where he won 15 of his final 21 starts and put up a .936 save percentage, Saros was crucial to the Preds clinching the final spot in the Central Division.
Because Saros was the Preds’ best player last season, and because of the retirement of long time starting goaltender Pekka Rinne, he deserved a pay day. And now he gets $20 million over the course of four years, while still preserving plenty of prime years after he turns 30 years old.
While it seems clear that Yaroslav Askaraov will be the goalie of the future for the Predators, Saros is the goalie of the present. He deserved to get paid like it.
Preds get Vezina worthy goaltender at bargain price
As I mentioned earlier, Juuse Saros deserved far more Vezina Trophy votes than he received.
Saros also has a .947 save percentage since that date, which leads all starting goalies since that date. He’s in the top 2 in GSAA.
And he just tied his career season high with 18 wins.
If he’s not in the Vezina race, don’t even give the trophy out.
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) April 27, 2021
Somehow, instead of being a finalist, he finished 6th in voting. Sorry, but I will never understand how a player with the highest save percentage and 2nd highest GSAA isn’t at least a finalist for the award given to the best goaltender in the league.
The truth is that Juuse Saros is among the top goaltenders in the league when you look at on ice production and per-game usage. Over the last three seasons, he’s saved over 31 goals more than expected, an exceptional number for a player who just turned 26 years old.
Juuse Saros (4x5m extension with Nashville) over the last three season: +31.7 goals saved over expected. pic.twitter.com/OTDJ4Y3xsH
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) August 16, 2021
The contract itself is very reasonable for the Predators to take on. Paying $5 million for a goaltender is nearly a league standard at this point: Saros will be the 17th goalie to make north of $5 million next season and the 23rd to make at least $4 million.
Also, according to Adam Vingan of The Athletic, the contract does not include a no-move or no-trade clause. Another bonus for the Predators.
All in all, the Nashville Predators are giving up league average money for a way above league average goaltender.
— Featured image via James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports —