It feels like it’s only a matter of time before Juuse Saros gets a real shot at making an impact with the Nashville Predators, but he seems comfortable with the patient approach.
To be more specific, getting more seasoning in the AHL doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to him, as he told NHL.com.
“I think that would be the best thing to go there and get games there,” Saros. “Of course, the competition is tough every place, but for my development it would be good to play a lot there.”
That’s sensible enough, as the ideal scenario for Nashville would be Pekka Rinne playing the part of a $7 million workhorse.
After all, as promising as Saros’ first season in the AHL was – 29 wins and a strong .920 save percentage in 38 games – he’s still a little “green” in North America.
Back in July, Predators GM David Poile indicated to the Tennessean that Marek Mazanec would get the first look as Rinne’s backup in 2016-17.
That also makes sense; you don’t want a budding prospect sitting on the bench behind Rinne, right?
On the other hand, it’s not that hard to envision a scenario where Saros plays the role of Matt Murray while Rinne suffers a fate similar to Marc-Andre Fleury.
For one thing, Mazanec doesn’t exactly have the greatest job security considering his two-way contract.
Let’s face it … Rinne hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire lately, either. Saros told NHL.com that Rinne is his “idol,” yet there may come a time when he surpasses his fellow Finn. Rinne’s numbers have been shaky-to-bad in three of the last four seasons, with only 2014-15’s output providing some solace.
So, kudos to Saros for showing maturity in accepting the idea of spending more time in the AHL than the NHL next season. For all we know, the Predators may not enjoy the luxury of such a patient approach, and that might not be such a bad thing.