Kevin Woodley joins the show this week to share his goaltending expertise and talk about the outlook for the Sabres in net for the coming season. We talk at length about Eric Comrie’s strengths and weaknesses and his ability to take on a larger workload. Kevin also shares his thoughts on Craig Anderson and how both he and Comrie can work in tandem this season.
We touch on Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and, of course, Devon Levi as we wrap up the show. Along the way you’ll catch some terrific anecdotes about Ryan Miller and other goaltenders Kevin has covered and spoken with during his time with InGoal and NHL.com.
As the season heads into its final month, one of the biggest holes on Buffalo’s roster for the offseason is in net.
The Sabres are currently set to the summer with no goaltenders under contract and a lot of questions over what the future in the crease looks like. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is a restricted free agent and is the only sure thing the Sabres have in terms of playing games in either Buffalo or Rochester in 2022-23. Beyond that, it’s a crapshoot.
Buffalo will need to acquire a minimum of two goaltenders this summer. One to play the lion’s share of the games in Buffalo and the other to share time in Rochester (ideally with one of Buffalo’s promising young collegiate prospects).
Any assumption that Luukkonen should be stepping in as Buffalo’s starter for the 22-23 season is premature to me. Luukkonen has played only 13 NHL games between two seasons and he suffered an injury in each of those runs. Even taking into account the poor play in front of him in Rochester, his resume isn’t that of a goalie who is ready to step into an NHL starter’s job. I think it would be far more appropriate for Luukonen to play somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-to-35 games behind a steadier veteran presence.
Bringing Craig Anderson back has been a popular refrain as he’s offered a reliable option since returning from injury. There’s a reason the Sabres odds against Winnipeg tonight are only +140 at Betway and not much steeper. There’s also a reason that the over/under of 6.5 for tonight’s game is a good bet of late. Anderson has been a big reason the Sabres vibes have been so good. However, his numbers this year are still quite average. He’s sporting a -5 goals saved above expected and his .901 save percentage falls in line with the downward trend of his last few full seasons in Ottawa.
Consider as well, he is 41 years old and missed a significant portion of the season to injury. Does he fit the profile of a goalie who can help the Sabres take the next step?
The Sabres pushed their point streak to six games and improved to 8-3-2 in the month of March. We discuss how the continued success of the team could potentially cloud the longer term needs when it comes to making sure the Sabres take the next step in their rebuild. Namely, we discuss the discourse around Craig Anderson and where the team would be had he been healthy for the entire year.
Also on the show is a discussion over the new Buffalo Bills stadium deal and highlights from the NHL GM meetings.