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Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros’ season ended with him as a spectator, sidelined by an ankle injury that prevented him from playing in the postseason.

During the season, though, the 27-year-old earned himself a place in elite company in his first full season as the team’s No. 1 goalie. His efforts were rewarded when he named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the played “adjudged to be the best at this position” and is voted on by the league’s general managers.

Saros finished third with 32 points, behind the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin, who won (154 points; first on 29 of 32 ballots) and the Calgary Flames’ Jacob Markstrom (53 points). Shesterkin led the league with a 2.07 goals-against average and a .935 save %. He also had six shutouts. Markstrom had a league-best nine shutouts to go with a .922 save % (tied for third) and a 2.22 goals-against (third).

Saros’ led all goalies in time on ice (3,931:13), starts (67) and tied for first in victories (37). His 2.64 goals-against average was 14th in the league, while his .918 save% was eighth. He also had four shutouts en route to earning his first All-Star appearance.

“I didn’t really expect that,” Saros said of being a finalist. “It was a little bit of a surprise. It felt kind of surreal, watching those guys who got nominated and being able to be in with those names.”

Pekka Rinne is the only Predators goalie to win the award (2018).

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Reach Paul Skrbina at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.

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