Moments ago, the Nashville Predators announced that they have signed 2013 draftee, Juuse Saros to a three-year, entry-level contract. Due to this deal, he is expected to begin his North American career during the 2015-16 season. Here is word from the official Predators press release about the Finnish goaltender:
Saros, 20 (4/19/95), appeared in 47 of HPK’s 60 Finnish Elite League (SM-Liiga) contests in 2014-15, ranking among the league’s Top Five in shutouts (6), minutes played (2773:53), save percentage (.929) and goals-against average (2.14) in his second full season in the league. He was named 2013-14 Finnish Elite League Rookie of the Year after ranking second among the Top Three in goals-against average (1.76), and save percentage (.928) becoming just the fourth goalie to win the award in its 40-year history. During his final Finnish junior league season in 2012-13, the Forssa, Finland, native was named best player and recipient of the Jorma Valtonen Award as the league’s top goaltender after leading all netminders in goals-against average (1.86) and save percentage (.933).
The 5-11, 176-pounder represented Finland at both the World Championship and the World Junior Championship for the second consecutive year in 2015, backing up Predators netminder Pekka Rinne at the 2015 World Championship and stopping all 22 shots he faced in his lone appearance of the tournament against Slovakia to record Finland’s third of four consecutive shutouts. At the 2014 World Junior Championship, he led Finland to its first Gold Medal at the tournament since 1987, receiving Media All-Star Team honors after leading all goaltenders in save percentage (.943) and goals-against average (1.57) in six games. He was also named Best Goalkeeper of the 2013 Under-18 World Championship and one of Finland’s three best players of the tournament in helping them claim the bronze medal.
With Saros’ signing, that ultimately means someone has to go. You have Rinne and Hutton on the NHL level, and Marek Mazanec and Magnus Hellberg in waiting with Milwaukee. Well, it has already been stated that Carter Hutton isn’t going anywhere (definitely not Rinne, either), and Mazanec has been goalie-in-waiting. Though Hellberg is good to have in the system, it’s time for this kiddo so spread his wings and get some ice time elsewhere.