Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen – Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo Sabres rising star Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been, so far, quiet in his attempts at becoming an NHL starter. He has played well in the NHL but has had starter Craig Anderson in his way. With Anderson now officially retired, Luukkonen will now fight with prospect Devon Levi in training camp to see who will be the starter in Buffalo to start the season. Luukkonen, 23, is a monster in between the pipes at 6-foot-6 and 217 pounds He got the majority of his NHL starts in the 2022/2023 NHL season, posting a reocrd of 17-11-4 with a GAA of 3.61 and a save percentage of .891. For his career, he has posted a record of 20-19-6 with a save percentage of .898 and a 2.46 GAA.
Luukkonen has played extremely well in a small sample size but he should flourish behind the young, talented Sabres defense that includes Owen Power and Rasmus Dahlin. This Buffalo team is loaded with young talent and are hungry to take that next step this season and Luukkonen could play a major role in that heppening. The 2022/2023 January Rookie of the Month had his first NHL point, an assist.
Luukkonen has worked his way up to the NHL from 23 games at the ECHL level with the Cincinnati Cyclones during the 2019-2020 season to one of the best young netminders in the league. Luukkonen has immense talent but he just needs a path to showcase his talent.He expects to be the backup at the very least to highly touted prospect Levi to start the season and is more than capable of taking that starter role in a heartbeat.
Luukkonen has played extremely well at every stop he has made in his hockey career and Buffalo is no different. As a bigger goaltender, his movement between the pipes is outstanding considering his size. He is able to track the puck and make stops when they are needed to be made and can make a stop late in a close game. There is nothing Luukkonen cannot do and he is making his case for more starts in the 2023/2024 NHL season.