Nashville Predators netminder Juuse Saros
Photo credit: The Athletic

One popular radio host in Toronto reveals who the Leafs should spend their assets on

Published February 24, 2024 at 9:21

On another segment of That's Hockey, Brian Hayes joined Gino Reda to talk about his preferred list of candidates that the Toronto Maple Leafs should be targeting and prioritizing as we inch closer to the March 8th trade deadline, which is now less than 2 weeks away.

We have heard all the rumours linking the Maple Leafs to Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin, Sean Walker and others, but coming in at number 5 on his list was goaltender Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators.

The Preds entered the season claiming a rebuild, they're currently tied with the St. Louis Blues in points for the final wild card spot, but have been somewhat reluctant on talking about Saros' future.

Hayes notes that it could be a long-shot, but if he were to be made available, the Maple Leafs should be doing everything in their power to bring him over:

"Juuse Saros. Out of nowhere. The goaltending in this city with this team has been very inconsistent, very unpredictable, Ilya Samsonov has been a lot better recently but there's still a lot of question marks about him and the rest of the crease. But Juuse Saros, he erases all of that. His numbers have not been great this year, but throughout his career, he is a .917 save percentage. He's a stud. He steps in and can possibly do what Bobrovsky did for the Panthers last year."

Saros has been magnificent throughout his career, but none more impressive than the moment he took over for Pekka Rinne. For his career, he carries a .917 SV%, a 2.63 G.A.A., and a 179-116-29 record with 22 shutouts. Over the last 2 years alone, he has started in 130 games and has posted a 71-48-10 record to go along with a .918 SV%. He finished 6th in Vezina voting in 2020-21, 3rd in 2021-22, and 4th last year. This season has been a bit of a struggle with a .904 SV% and a 2.97 G.A.A. on a retooling Predators team, but his track record speaks volumes.

Gino Reda wanted to backtrack to Saros because he made mention that Hayes was extremely hesitant on moving a first round pick or a high-end prospect but was wondering if things change when it comes to Saros:

"Yes, I believe he is because of the nature of the position. Again, he is a superstar, elite goaltender, he has been a stud for years in Nashville, and you have him this year and next year, he's got another year on his deal so you're going to make the money work, clearly. Samsonov might have to go in the deal but you're going to make the money work. You allow Joseph Woll to come and realize you're a young guy in this league and you're not a tandem guy yet, you're a backup that's going to learn the ropes with a guy like Juuse Saros and when in doubt with playoff hockey, sometimes you simply need a better goaltender..."

"I would be reluctant to trade a first round pick, Easton Cowan, other high-end prospects for other players on this list. Saros... a goaltender, stud goaltender? Very different story."

Going back to the other players he made mention of in his list - Hayes listed Alexandre Carrier at 4, Sean Walker at 3, Noah Hanifin at 2 and Chris Tanev at 1 - Hayes wanted to make sure to point out that none of these players are going to be the "be-all-end-all" for the Leafs this season. In fact, he believes that it will have to come internally if the Leafs want to break the curse, but it would never hurt to add top-end players to a top-end roster:

"I don't think it's going to be determined on any of these players, I don't think they're one player - and none of these players - away from unlocking that, Gino, they have to prove it with their best players, with their goaltender, with their system, with their coach. Ultimately it's Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Wiliiam Nylander, Morgan Rielly, those are the guys that are gonna drive them, not Chris Tanev. Chris Tanev is a good player, he would step in and definitely improve them but they're not going from the outside of the cup bubble to the inside of the cup bubble because of Chris Tanev. I think you have to be realistic with who these guys are... they are more than just one guy away from unlocking that, i think the reality is that they need to hope that Bertuzzi shows up in the playoffs, Domi shows up in the playoffs, a lot of things have to break their way."

Saros would be an impressive acquisition should Brad Treliving be able to make it happen. He is definitely one of the better starting netminders in the entire NHL, his track record has been nothing short of impressive, and he would be an upgrade over what the Leafs currently have. Goaltending has been a crutch over the years - especially in the post-season - but someone like Saros could turn around their misfortunes on a whim.

February 24   |   503 answers
One popular radio host in Toronto reveals who the Leafs should spend their assets on

Who do you think would be the best addition for the Leafs at the deadline?

Juuse Saros11322.5 %
Chris Tanev21041.7 %
Noah Hanifin18035.8 %
Pavel Buchnevich00 %
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