Friedman on Predators: ‘They’ve got to find out if Saros can play’

The Nashville Predators should be poised to be among the Cup contenders this season, but the path ahead for the team’s goaltending situation isn’t necessarily clear.

Pekka Rinne will turn 36 in November, and the veteran’s seven-year, $49 million contract has entered its final year.

Rinne started 59 games last season, while Juuse Saros got the call 23 times.

Saros, 23, signed a three-year, $4.5 million contract in mid-July.

“The workload - is it shared? Do they look to move him? But at the same time, they’re a contender. Are they ready to go full-time with a young guy?”

Elliotte Friedman had a Friday morning radio hit on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 and was asked about the situation.

“I think that’s the big question,” began Friedman. “When you’re challenging to win a Stanley Cup, and they are, then sometimes it’s hard to test drive someone else. You tend to go with what you know. But I’ve got to think this year they’ve got to find out if Saros can play. That’s what you’ve got to because the contract situation demands it.

“They don’t want to pay Rinne $7 million a year again. They’ve got a lot of their guys done. They’ve got Josi coming up in two years. That’s a big one too. They know that they’re going to have to pay a lot more than $4 million a year. So I think this year I see a situation where they’ve got to find out if Saros can play.

“It’s going to be interesting there this year. They’re all-in, and sometimes when you’re all-in it’s tough to say, ‘Oh, we’ve got to fiddle around with our goalies.’ But this is unique. I think they know, they’ve proven to themselves in the past, they just have to get in and they know they’re going to be good enough. They know they’re a challenger.

“So I think they will fiddle with their goaltending this year to figure out what the future plan is going to be.”

Rinne has a modified no-trade clause, no-move clause.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly