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When it comes to Juuse Saros’ potential availability, the Leafs need to be persistent with the Nashville Predators

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Photo credit:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
26 days ago
Nashville Predators general manager Barry Trotz may be doing an effective job of tip toeing the topic publicly, but without question, there likely will come a day in the near future when Juuse Saros’ name hits the trade block.
And, if and when Nashville elects to go that route, Brad Treliving and the Toronto Maple Leafs better be all over that type of transaction.
Now, why would the Predators even entertain the idea of dealing an elite netminder, you ask?
Two words: Yaroslav Askarov. The 21-year-old Russian, who was taken 11th overall in the 2021 draft, is having an incredible season thus far for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. Through 23 appearances, he’s compiled a 16-6-1 record to go along with a 2.18 goals-against average, 0.921 save-percentage and three shutouts. Ultimately, even though Nashville doesn’t have to be in a rush to do anything, Askarov’s making a strong case to be the team’s back-up as soon as next season —at the very least. Additionally, he’s allowed two goals in two appearances for the Preds in 2023-24.
In the grand scheme of things, it would make more sense – if they elect to go that route – to make a move of this magnitude in the summer. For starters, there would be more teams interested, and on top of that, the salary cap wouldn’t be as much of an issue to navigate through.
Furthermore, the other factor that could be muddying the waters for Nashville is Saros’ contractual status. On July 1, the 28-year-old will be eligible to talk extension. That said, he’ll also be exactly one year away from unrestricted free agency, a scenario that the Leafs are all too familiar with at this point.
Clearly, there’s lots at stake for both parties over the next few months.
Why Toronto?
Well, once and for all, acquiring Saros would change the game tenfold for the organization. From a talent standpoint, the team has had nothing close —in years, probably decades. He’s that good. Instantaneously, his arrival would signify the end of a conversation that has spanned 20-plus years dating back to the Curtis Joseph era.
And for the record, nothing should be off the table for someone like Saros either.

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