Trusted Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros received praise from Tomas Vokoun, one of the club’s founding pillars.
Stability has always been present in nets for the Tennessee team. Selected in the 1998 expansion draft with the Montreal Canadiens, Vokoun spent eight seasons in Nashville. He was then replaced by Pekka Rinne, who was the No. 1 goalkeeper for 13 seasons.
Saros has now taken over and is likely to keep his job for a while, having finished third in last season’s Vezina Trophy poll. As an observer, Vokoun really likes what he sees from the Finns.
“He’s very, very good,” Vokoun said in an interview with the Predators’ official website on Saturday. I would definitely rank him in the top 10 goalkeepers. He’s incredibly fast, he has good reflexes and his game is unreal. I honestly think if he were five centimeters taller he would probably be the best goalkeeper in the league.”
Saros is indeed one of the smallest goalkeepers in the league at 5’11”. According to Vokoun, however, his technique is impeccable. So the performance of the team in front of him plays little role in his performance.
“You either have it or you don’t, and he obviously delivered the goods,” Vokoun said. And I personally love the way he plays – staying on his feet and all his recoveries. He’s a very active goalie with good skating and all that.”
“I think such goalkeepers can be successful in any team. You could play on the best team in the league and be very successful, or you could play on the worst team and be successful just because your game is so solid and you can handle many situations without having to rely on your team [pour réussir].”
Hockey has also changed over the years, so maybe goaltender size is a little less important than it used to be.
“Before, you always had a 6’5″, 230lb guy in front of the semicircle. Now the game has changed and you need to move faster from east to west. Maybe you don’t have as much traffic and battles on the web.”
Vokoun played 15 seasons in the National League, including eight with the Pradators. He is 300-288-78 with a 2.56 clean sheet average and a .917 save percentage in 700 games with the Habs, Predators, Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1996 to 2013.
For his part, Saros will start his eighth season with the team in the fall.
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