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Buffalo Sabres 2024-25 goaltending comparison

Buffalo Sabres 2024-25 goaltending comparison

The Buffalo Sabres have three likely goalies heading into the 2024-25 season. Starting goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukonen is the obvious choice to man the Sabres net for most games this year. Devon Levi and Buffalo’s new goalie James Reimer will have to battle for the backup job. Let’s take a look at how these three goalies stack up against each other.

Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had a solid season with the Sabres in 2023-24, posting a .910 save percentage and a 2.57 goals-against average in 54 games. While he suffered a slight regression the year before, going from .917 and 2.74 at the end of 2022 to .892 and 3.61, respectively, a season later, he has since rebounded.

The Blue and Gold thought Devon Levi would be the team’s starting goalie at the start of the 2023-24 season, but in late November, general manager Kevyn Adams sent him to Rochester and UPL became Buffalo’s starting goalie. The Finnish goalie has been posting upbeat numbers as the hockey season has progressed. New Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff has even said he wants Luukkonen to be the starting goalie next season.

The Sabres could sign him to a long-term UPL deal, as he will be a free agent at the end of August. Luukkonen is arbitration-eligible on a two-year bridge deal. Expect Adams to sign a UPL deal that avoids arbitration well before then. While the No. 1 has struggled with consistency at times, he has improved with experience and this upcoming year will make or break his NHL career.

Rookie goalie Devon Levi ended his college career at Northeastern in 2023 to play for the Sabres. Levi got off to a great start, posting a .905 save percentage and a 2.94 goals-against average in just seven NHL games. Fans and management alike thought they had finally found the team’s goaltender after years of seemingly endless playoff droughts.

Unfortunately, the euphoria proved premature. In his first two games in goal for Buffalo, Levi lost both. The No. 27 struggled for results over the next month and a half. By late November, he was with the Rochester Amerks of the AHL.

The move proved useful. Levi excelled in Rochester, helping win 16 games and losing just six. His save percentage and goals-against average were .927 and 2.42, respectively. He played five games in the Calder Cup playoffs and his goals-against average increased to 2.57. Devon Levi should get another chance in the NHL and if he can maintain his production, he will earn the franchise’s backup goalie job.

Former Detroit Red Wings goalie James Reimer joined Buffalo on the second day of NHL free agency on July 2. Reimer has had inconsistent performances in the Motor City, posting a decent .904 save percentage but a less-than-stellar .311 goals-against average and a dismal .450 quality stat percentage. The Detroit netminder played just 25 games last season in a backup role and likely won’t start many games for the Sabres.

Reimer will begin his 15th NHL season this fall. With UPL likely to play most of Buffalo’s games this season, Reimer is expected to compete with Levi for the No. 2 spot. The veteran Reimer will likely play the same role as now-retired goaltender Craig Anderson, as an experienced mentor to the team’s two much younger goaltenders.