While virtually every aspect of the Buffalo Sabres play has been humming of late, their netminders have been suspect for most of the season. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been given an opportunity to prove his worth to the organization, but early returns have been questionable. Finding a solution that offers the club a true improvement in net is easier said than done. We discuss the shortcomings in goal plus the challenges that will face the Sabres in trying to once again improve between the pipes.
Fit Check: 2022-23 Sabres Goaltenders
It’s taken a little longer than usual due to the late-November launch of the Sabres alternate jersey but all the different sets of gear worn by Buffalo’s goaltenders have now seen the ice (with the exception of Eric Comrie’s black and red setup).
The black and red uniforms offer a great shift for the team’s netminders, providing a drastically different look for each when the team wears their new third jersey. Perhaps we will see more mask art or pads for the team’s Reverse Retro jerseys, but for now each goalie has sported two different sets on the year. It offers a great variety of looks and there’s a similar collection of mask art to admire. I’ve included Rochester’s goaltenders in the mix as well since more gear is always more fun.Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast Featuring Kevin Woodley of InGoal Magazine and NHL.com
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.
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The Instigator Podcast 10.46 – Listener Q&A on Jerseys, Trades and More
As we continue through August, it seemed like a good time to field a few more listener questions. This week’s episode tackles a bunch of different topics including the Sabres Reverse Retro sweaters, shoulder patches, goaltending plans, special teams alignments and trade targets. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions for this week’s Q&A.
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Despite Early Movement, Sabres Aren’t Shut Out of Goalie Market (yet)
As the wheels got turning on the goalie market at the draft, the Sabres have yet to complete a move to round out their crease for the coming season. It’s a subject that’s caused some consternation throughout the fanbase, though I’m not sure theirs is cause for concern just yet.
There are still a few notable names left on the list I laid out last week. Of those remaining options, a few are truly viable targets for the Sabres to pursue in the coming days. Most notably, Eric Comrie and whoever may be available via trade from the Sharks. In the meantime, I think it’s important to consider that the goalie market isn’t completely shuttered because Alex Georgiev and Vitek Vanacek got traded. Combing through the league, you can quickly find another tier of goalies who could almost certainly be had via trade given their respective team’s outlook in net.Continue reading
Pros and Cons for a Busy Goalie Market
The talk of the offseason in Buffalo will be over who Kevyn Adams finds to form a goaltending tandem with Craig Anderson. The goalie market is expected to be pretty hot as upwards of eight teams could be on the hunt for a starting caliber netminder. The Sabres will be among that group with Anderson expected to continue to lend a veteran presence in the locker room while playing somewhere around 25-30 games in the 2022-23 season.
Who the Sabres opt to acquire – or perhaps more fittingly, who they’re able to acquire – will give a strong indication on how the season will go. Land a primary target and the good vibes from the end of 21-22 will keep rolling with optimistic expectations for the coming season. Strike out and repeat the UFA day scramble of a year ago and suddenly the outlook on next can shift dramatically.
We’ve seen plenty of reporting that points to Buffalo’s desire to keep the tracks clear for Devon Levi, Erik Portillo and even Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. That indicates that a long-term, big-money acquisition is probably off the table. It seems likely to me that the Sabres will find something akin to Carter Hutton this offseason. A veteran goalie willing to sign a middle-term deal who offers some promise as a starter but lacks a more prestigious resume.
With that in mind, I’ve laid out the pros and cons of signing or trading for some of the goaltenders who are UFAs or have been rumored to be available via trade and whether or not the Sabres could realistically land each goalkeeper.Continue reading
The 10 Best Sets of Sabres Goalie Equipment
Another season is winding down and the future in net for the Sabres is up in the air once again. That’s exciting for a few reasons. First and foremost, the opportunity to improve in net opens the door for the Sabres to take a big step back to respectability as they work through this rebuild.
Second, and most importantly, a new goalie (or goalies) means new goalie gear.
Thanks to the Sabres rich history in goal, there have been buckets of goalies whose mask design or gear choices have been terrific. With the 2021-22 NHL season ready to wrap up, it felt like a good time to look back at 10 of the best sets of goalie gear in Sabres history.
You’ll notice that no one from the era of vintage pads did not make the cut. That’s simply because vintage pads are quite ambiguous. There’s nothing that really sets Roger Crozier apart from Gerry Desjardins or Gary Bromley besides their masks (and we’ve already ranked those). Those terrific vintage sets all have their place in history, but when it comes to the best looks in team history, they can’t compare to the way more modern pads pop with different color combinations.
This isn’t a ranking so much as a collection of the sets I feel look the best. So, the list isn’t in any particular order. Though I did save the best for last.Continue reading
Offseason Offers the Sabres a Path to Improve in Goal
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?Continue reading
Two in the Mailbox: Deadline Special
In honor of the NHL Trade Deadline, it’s time once again to take a few reader questions.
I’m looking forward to Monday’s deadline as I think the Sabres are poised to move at least two or three players off the roster. And there’s potential for even more moves both out and in. Unless Kevyn Adams makes zero moves on Moday, it will be hard to say it was an underwhelming deadline.
As we touched on this week’s podcast, I’m hopeful that Adams will bring in a player who will be in Buffalo not just for the final weeks of the season, but well into the future. A younger player, ideally with term, who could add to the growing confidence over what Adams and the Sabres are trying to build. That’s easier said than done, but it wouldn’t be the first time the organization brought in a notable piece for the future at the deadline. Here’s hoping the next one comes on Monday.
Before we get to the questions, we should celebrate the beauty of the Armchair GM submissions on CapFriendly. It’s been far too long since we shared any of these, so let’s make up for lost time with some Very Bad Trades.
A few thoughts here. First, Kaapo Kahkonen has had a decent season for the Wild but he hasn’t yet risen to the level of a number one goalie. Marcus Foligno has also carved out a very valuable role in Minnesota, so the idea that just Casey Mittelstadt (whose has been very underwhelming when not injured) could fetch you both of these players is silly. Yet, that deal is trumped by the following offer of the Arizona Coyotes offering a first and a third for Victor Olofsson and recent healthy scratch, Anders Bjork. I’m not sure how to arrive at that particular valuation, but it seems…inaccurate. Olofsson ought to have some value this summer (or at the deadline) but Bjork’s value will have cratered and while the Coyotes do need players on contracts, they also desperately need draft capital.
Sure, I guess. There are other players in the NHL though. We don’t always have to do Pat Kane.
On to the questions.Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 10.21 – Preparing for a Post Olympics Power Play
It’s been a busy week in the NHL and we open this week’s episode with a conversation over Aaron Dell’s suspension and the bind that it has put the Sabres in to with their goaltending. Not only do we discuss how the suspension affects the Sabres but the actions Dell took and if he was deserving of the penalty he received.
Along the way, we touch on the new hirings of Kent Hughes, Patrick Allvin and Émilie Castonguay. The Philadelphia Flyers’ recent exploits were also a topic as the club held a press conference addressing their current struggles and the path forward.
We wrap up with a discussion about Owen Power and Devon Levi’s future once the Olympics wrap up and just how they can fit into the Sabres roster after the Olympics, NHL Trade Deadline and the completion of their respective NCAA seasons.