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'Smallish' Saros stands tall as only European goalie

by Mike G. Morreale

TORONTO -- Juuse Saros might be the only European goaltender invited to the 2013 NHL Scouting Combine this week, but he's determined to make the best of it.


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"Of course, it's nice to see that NHL scouts have seen me play and have invited me and I'm proud of that," Saros told "But I'm just taking it day by day and not thinking too far ahead."

Saros, who has 15 interviews with NHL scouts and general managers scheduled through Thursday before taking part in the fitness portion of the Combine on Saturday, said he's been asked most about his size. That doesn't come as a shock to the 5-foot-10.25, 178-pound goaltender.

"I just have to keep good position, move well and read the plays," he said. "Everyone is asking me about my strengths and weaknesses, and almost every team asks about my size and how I compensate."

Saros, who plays for HPK in Finland, is NHL Central Scouting's No. 1-ranked European goalie. He excelled for the bronze medal-winning Finns at the 2013 World Under-18 Championship in Sochi, Russia, in April, finishing 5-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average, .946 save percentage and one shutout in seven games.

He said he knows he needs to play big in net to compensate for his stature.

"I think I play more of a hybrid style, but I play lots of butterfly," he said. "If necessary, I can also play stand-up, because I'm not big. I just can't go down and hope that pucks hit me. I know I have to cover as much of the net as I can."

NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told "With Juuse in net, HPK won its first Finnish junior title. He's smallish but has very quick reflexes. He's difficult to beat up close to the net and he's excellent on rebounds."

Saros said he has enjoyed watching Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I really like Marc-Andre's style and was disappointed when they had to pull him, but Vokoun has played well," Saros said.


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