The Toronto Maple Leafs still need a goalie, but that goalie isn't likely to be Juuse Saros.
While I, like many others, enjoy entertaining trade rumors, the Toronto Maple Leafs are not likely to be acquiring Juuse Saros anytime soon.
Judging by the standards he set in recent years, Saros seems to be having a down year. Currently, he holds a .903 SV% and a 2.94 GAA, both worse than his career averages of .918 SV% and 2.64 GAA. (hockeydb.com).
Furthermore, the Nashville Predators are in a precarious position, teetering on the edge of missing the playoffs.
Over the past 19 years, the Predators have only missed the playoffs three times, thanks in part to their exceptional goaltending. Tomas Vokoun, Pekka Rinne, and now Saros have all been top-tier goaltenders, guiding the Predators to regular season, and sometimes, playoff success.
In contrast, the Toronto Maple Leafs have struggled to secure a reliable number-one goalie for the past two decades. Despite the attempts of goalies like James Reimer, Jonathan Bernier, Freddie Andersen, Jack Campbell, and Ilya Samsonov, the team has not seen a legitimate top-five goalie since Ed Belfour and Curtis Joseph. While there's hope in Joseph Woll, it's uncertain if he'll fill that role.
Don't Get Hyped for a Saros to Toronto Trade
The notion of Saros joining the Leafs in a trade seems far-fetched. With a reasonable $5 million AAV, proven top-three performance, and contractual stability until the end of the 2024-25 season, Saros is an asset the Predators are likely to retain. Nashville's projected $45 million cap space at that time positions them perfectly to offer him a deserving extension.
However, according to Elliotte Friedman, the Predators may listen to offers on the star goalie, whose price tag would be absolutely enormous.
The question arises: why would Nashville trade a 28-year-old number-one goalie, earning as much as Tyler Bertuzzi, who arguably hasn't even reached his prime? Even with the potential for a significant offer, the Leafs may not have what it takes to entice the Predators.
While Mitch Marner could be an attractive option, Toronto's commitment to the core-four makes such a move unlikely. However, it's a move that makes sense. Nashville has the cap space to accommodate Marner's contract, providing them with a star winger to complement Ryan O'Reilly. On the flip side, Toronto would secure the number-one goalie they desperately need.
Unfortunately, the NHL rarely sees such exciting trades materialize. Consequently, a trade involving prospects, picks, and current B-level players doesn't align with Nashville's needs at the moment. It's disappointing to burst the bubble on this entertaining trade rumor, but a Saros-to-Toronto trade is unlikely. I just don't see the Leafs being able to put together that woudl get Nashville to make such a move.