“What? What’s that? What did Juuse? Juuse I’m getting called up to the NHL for the first time ever? I say that’s crazy awesome!” (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
The Nashville Predators have announced that Juuse Saros and Viktor Arvidsson have both been recalled from the Milwaukee Admirals. In addition the Predators have placed Paul Gaustad and Gabriel Bourque on injured reserve. Saros will be making his NHL debut tonight as he starts in net for the Predators on home ice.
This news comes after a 3-2 overtime loss by the Predators on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers that saw Bourque get injured and miss the final two periods of that contest due to an an upper-body injury.
Carter Hutton was caught up in a frightening collision with Marcus Foligno in Wednesday’s Predators road game against the Buffalo Sabres. He will be out of game action due to a lower-body injury. This subsequently is the reasoning behind Saros first career NHL recall where he’ll partner up with Finnish National Team goaltending partner Pekka Rinne. The two combined to set a modern day World Championship team shutout record in May and are good at mirroring each other.
In response, the Admirals have recalled Brandon Whitney and Joe Pendenza from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. Both should join the team ahead of tonight’s game against the Rockford IceHogs.
Press Release via Nashville Predators:
Nashville, Tenn. (November 28, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Saturday that the club has recalled forward Viktor Arvidsson and goaltender Juuse Saros from Milwaukee (AHL), and placed forwards Gabriel Bourque and Paul Gaustad on Injured Reserve.
Arvidsson, 22 (4/8/92), posted a point in each of his first 13 AHL contests this season – the longest point streak in the league in 2015-16 and longest by an Admiral since 2009-10 (Mike Santorelli, 14 games) – and paces the club with 17 points (7g-10a) in 14 games. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound native of Skelleftea, Sweden, scored his first NHL goal, which stood as the game winner, in Nashville’s season-opening victory vs. Carolina on Oct. 8, and has a goal in four games this season after going scoreless in his first six NHL contests a season ago. Nashville’s fifth choice, 112th overall (fourth round), in the 2014 NHL Draft, Arvidsson was named to the 2015 AHL All-Rookie Team in his first season in North America after ranking third among league rookies and first on the Milwaukee Admirals in points (22g-33a-55pts).
Saros, 20 (4/19/95), has posted an 8-2-0 record, a 2.40 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and a shutout for Milwaukee in 2015-16, his first campaign in North America. During the month of November, the Forssa, Finland, native has gone 7-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and a shutout. Prior to joining the Admirals, Nashville’s fourth choice, 99th overall (fourth round), in the 2013 Entry Draft spent two seasons with HPK of the Finnish Elite League, being named league rookie of the year in 2014, as well as helping Finland win the 2014 World Junior Championship, its first gold medal at the tournament since 1987, receiving 2014 WJC Media All-Star Team honors in the process after leading all goaltenders in save percentage (.943) and goals-against average (1.57) in six games.
The Nashville Predators return home tonight to play the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m. CT as they begin a three-game home stand (TV: FOX Sports Tennessee; Radio: 102.5 The Game). The Predators will also face off against the Arizona Coyotes (Tuesday) and Florida Panthers (Thursday) during this three-game set. Fans can still take advantage of the “Gold Friday” super sale. During the sale, fans can get up to 80 percent off admission for select games, as well as discounts on merchandise and specials on parking. The “Gold Friday” sale ends Sunday Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. For more information on “Gold Friday,” fans can visit NashvillePredators.com.
The Arvidsson news doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Bourque’s injury in yesterday’s game was in plain sight and Arvidsson may well have been working his way into a call up regardless of an injury situation. After starting his season in Nashville all Arvidsson did in Milwaukee was score points en route to becoming the Admirals leading scorer with 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) in 14 games. It took until last night, when the Admirals were shutout, for his AHL best thirteen-game point streak to end. The next closest point streak in the AHL this season was ten-games long by Pat Cannone of the Chicago Wolves.
Saros first career NHL call up comes as a shock for most. I don’t know if you chalk that more up to Nashville suffering a goaltending injury or that it is simply down to Saros reaching the NHL this fast. No matter what the fact is this: all that hype leading into Saros’ first season playing professionally in North America is spot on. Saros has made ten starts this season, won eight games including his last seven straight, has a 2.40 goals against average, 0.919 save percentage, and a shutout to his name.
While there might be some wagging a finger saying Marek Mazanec is being passed over or that the Czech netminder hasn’t been playing as well as his counterpart here in Milwaukee I am not one of those people. I feel both Admirals goaltenders this season have been phenomenal and often times have bailed out the young roster out in front of them. This move of bringing Saros up could well be similar to that of Mazanec’s debut season in North America. Remember that it was Magnus Hellberg that had the initial call up in early stages of the 2013-14 season before Mazanec stayed up for awhile. I think it is just as much giving a taste of things to come as it is eventually allowing playing opportunities.
As far as the moves for the Admirals are concerned. They’re now without their: team captain Colton Sissons, leading scorer Arvidsson, and arguably their top goaltender in Saros. This move is an immediate test of the young team to see how they handle a significant roster turnover. Such a happenstance like this was one of the major issues in adjusting to late last season. They’ll all need to be better than that and stick to Admirals hockey rather than go into panic mode just because there are some missing pieces.
In place of Arvidsson the Admirals will look to see if Pendenza can replicate his outstanding scoring touch at the ECHL level in Cincinnati right here in Milwaukee. Pendenza has been fantastic since joining the Cyclones: 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 15 games with a plus/minus rating of +5 and 10 penalty minutes. He is second on the team in scoring trailing only Nick Huard by a single point of offense.
The Admirals might have considered recalling Eric Robinson but the unfortunate reality is that he was injured on Thanksgiving Thursday. There aren’t details on his injury but the speculation makes it seem like it might be a bit before he’s back to game action. In addition, Jaynen Rissling has also been out of action due to injury which hinders his transition from defenseman to forward.
Then there is Mr. Whitney who has been playing under the shadow of Brad Thiessen at the ECHL level with the Cyclones. While that might come off as a bad thing to say – I have always been a big fan of Thiessen and think that a youngster such as Whitney is learning a tremendous amount being able to partner up with someone of Thiessen’s very underrated abilities. Whitney has started 4 games out of the Cyclones 16 games played this season. He dropped his opening performance with the team but has since been deserving of an AHL look for his work in net. In Whitney’s last 3 starts he has won each contest and stopped 82/87 shots on goal for a 1.62 goals against average and 0.943 save percentage.
What is your reaction to all this news? Is it surprising to see the Predators select Saros over Mazanec? Could Mazanec potentially be beating himself up between the ears over this news? With Arvidsson’s fire power now out of the lineup is it important for the Admirals to focus more on defensive hockey to win games or should they maintain their balanced approach?
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