By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — There wasn’t really any question of if goalie Juuse Saros would sign a new deal with the Nashville Predators, only when would it happen. Saros inked the new deal last week, signing for four years and $20 million. Considering that Saros had arguably been the best goalie in the NHL for the second half of the season and had played well despite the Predators’ first-round playoff loss to Carolina, it didn’t really raise any issues when he filed for salary arbitration. The Predators avoided that hearing by reaching agreement on the new deal, making the announcement last Wednesday.
“Juuse has proven himself as one of the best young goaltenders in the NHL, and we are very pleased to have him remain our No. 1 goaltender for years to come,” general manager David Poile said in a statement. “While being mentored by Pekka Rinne, he has spent the last several seasons growing and taking steps physically and mentally to become a top goalie in this League, as evident by his spot on the NHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2017-18 to finishing near the top of Vezina Trophy voting this past season. Juuse gives our team a chance to win in every game he plays.”
Saros set career highs in starts (35), wins (21), save% (.927) and goals-against average (2.28) over the season. He established himself as the undisputed number one goalie, ending his tenure as Pekka Rinne’s backup. Rinne ended a stellar career by retiring after the season. The team has also resolved the question of who will be Saros’ backup, at least for this year. They’ve signed David Rittich for one year at $1.25 million. Rittich, 28 years old, had a 2.86 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in 19 games with Flames and Maple Leafs.