On Thin Ice: Saros Trade Talks Heat Up

For several weeks, the Nashville Predators’ General Manager, Barry Trotz, has been surprisingly vocal about his openness to entertain trade proposals for standout goaltender Juuse Saros. Ever since Trotz took the reigns of the Predators as general manager, he has been quite reserved and quiet about his willingness to trade Saros, but his tune has changed a bit over the past two weeks. Even though Trotz has seemed more open to considering dealing the star goaltender, he’s maintained that a deal appears unlikely unless an overwhelming offer is presented to him.

In a recent broadcast conversation on 102.5 The Game, Trotz recently nuanced his stance.

“He’s been a special player, no question,” Trotz said. “But at the same time, you have to listen for the long-term as well. If an asset comes that you just can’t envision yourself getting — and our strength is goaltending — then you would have to consider.” This seems to suggest that the discussions around Saros behind closed doors might be heating up, as Trotz appears at least open to fielding offers for Saros. 

This change of tune might be driven by how Yaroslav Askarov (the Predator’s top goaltending prospect) is performing this season in the AHL.

Askarov ranks first among U22 AHL goaltenders in wins (18) and shutouts (3) and ranks second in goals against average (2.17GAA) and save percentage (.921 SV%). If Trotz could put together a trade, he could significantly enhance the team’s future assets while also paving the way for Askarov to take over as the new full-time goalie in Smashville. Trotz knows having two goalies of Saros and Askarov’s caliber is unnecessary and that a decision will need to be made soon regarding who is in between the pipes for the Predators. 

Another reason Trotz might be more open to a trade is the substantial salary Saros is projected to demand once eligible for a contract extension. It’s believed Saros,’ and his team are eyeing a contract with a floor of 8 million dollars per season, which would secure his place within the top five in terms of yearly compensation league-wide for goaltenders. 

Understandably, Trotz is reluctant to allocate $8 million annually to any individual, even an elite goaltender. 

When we look at the current situation, several options emerge based on rumors coming out of Nashville.

Multiple teams have reportedly shown interest in Saros, with Trotz demanding significant returns that have not been met with any form of negations so far.  

Rumors and media speculation indicate that teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers, and Carolina Hurricanes are exploring goaltending trade options in preparation for the playoffs. In particular, New Jersey, L.A., and Carolina have been associated as potential suitors for Saros:

New Jersey Devils: 

The Devils have the NHL’s 3third-lowest team save percentage at .894 and currently sit outside the playoffs. The biggest reason they are outside the playoffs is the goalie performance of Vitek Vanecek, Akira Schmid, and Nico Daws. The Devils urgently need a solution to the dilemma of having a young, talented roster but a terrible goalie situation. Securing a premier goaltender such as Saros could be the final touch in completing the Devils’ roster, instantly propelling them into the ranks of serious Stanley Cup contenders.

Trade Pieces:

  • First Round Picks
  • Simon Nemec D (#1 Prospect)
  • Seamus Casey D (#2 Prospect)
  • Samu Salminen C (#3 Prospect)
  • Cam Squires RW (#4 Prospect)
  • Josh Filmon LW (#5 Prospect)
  • Ethan Edwards D (#6 Prospect)
  • Dawson Mercer
  • Alexander Holtz

Carolina Hurricanes:

It’s now or never for the Hurricanes to capitalize on their dominance under Rod Brind’Amour. They’re squarely in the midst of their championship window, and it seems inevitable they’ll go all in soon – perhaps this season. Their primary shortfall this season has been goaltending, with the Canes ranking 31st across the NHL in team save percentage. The goaltender lineup of Antti Raanta, Pyotr Kochetkov, and Frederik Andersen has been the definition of inconsistent. Bringing in a top-tier goaltender like Saros would be pivotal and would immediately elevate the Hurricanes to a formidable position as Stanley Cup favorites. 

Trade Pieces:

  • First Round Picks
  • Alexander Nikishin D (#1 Prospect)
  • Bradly Nadeau W/C (#2 Prospect)
  • Scott Morrow D (#3 Prospect)
  • Ville Koivunen W/C (#4 Prospect)
  • Aleksi Heimosalmi D (#5 Prospect)
  • Vasili Ponomaryov C (#6 Prospect)
  • Martin Nečas

Los Angeles Kings:

When you look at the Kings’ goaltender position, it has been a rollercoaster ride this season. Cam Talbot’s performance from October to December, marked by a 14-7-3 record, looked enough to steady the ship and seemed like he was the answer between the pipes. Yet, the heavy dependence on the 36-year-old Talbot might have been overly ambitious. His decline in production has mirrored the King’s overall struggles. Failing to make the playoffs is unacceptable for the Kings, who entered the season with lofty expectations. The acquisition of Saros, thereby transitioning Talbot to a backup role, would immediately remedy their inconsistent goalie play. We all know the Kings reached out to the Predators last season about a Saros trade, and they might be desperate enough to do a deal this time around. 

Trade Pieces:

  • First Round Picks
  • Brandt Clarke D (#1 Prospect)
  • Jakub Dvorak D (#2 Prospect)
  • Alex Turcotte C (#3 Prospect)
  • Koehn Ziemmer RW (#4 Prospect)
  • Aatu Jämsen W (#5 Prospect)
  • Ryan Conmy RW (#6 Prospect)
  • Quinton Byfield
  • Arthur Kaliyev

The Predators’ strategy for a Saros trade remains uncertain. Does Trotz favor acquiring a young, established star like Byfield or Necas, potentially sacrificing other assets in a deal like prospects or draft picks, or will he aim to amass prospects and draft capital, sidestepping the inclusion of a big-name player? Trotz has mentioned that a significant player would be necessary to tip the scales for a trade, though who that might be is still unclear. It is still unclear if that means an established player or a top prospect. What’s certain is that as the trade deadline nears, talk of a Saros trade is gaining momentum, and we can expect that momentum to grow the closer we get to March 8th. 

About Gabriel 134 Articles
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