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Buffalo Sabres

Sabres Choose To Stay Away From Goalie Market



The Buffalo Sabres accomplished most of what they wanted to do on July 1, signing a pair of veteran defensemen in Erik Johnson and Connor Clifton, as well as restocking their goalie depth in the American Hockey League by bringing back Dustin Tokarski and Michael Houser and signing Devin Cooley to one-year deals. 

GM Kevyn Adams spoke to the media prior to the opening of the club’s Development Camp at the HarborCenter on Sunday and indicated that the club did not seriously explore adding a veteran goaltender and is prepared to go into next season with rookie goalie Devon Levi and  24-year-old netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

“The big picture conversation on goaltending, I think we’re coming from a position of strength. I’m really excited about the goaltenders we have.” Adams said. “It goes back to a little bit of what I just said about (having depth). I think it’s really important to have quality goaltending and we’ve seen over the years if something happens, you certainly need a number of guys. So we’ll see how it plays out over the next few weeks leading into camp, but I’m certainly happy to go into the season the way we sit right now.”

Free Agency And Trade Market Too Pricey

Buffalo was not prepared to spend significant cap space on free-agent goalies like Joonas Korpisalo (who signed a five-year, $20 million deal with Ottawa), bring in a veteran like Jonathan Quick or James Reimer (who signed one-year deals with the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings), or trade one or more of the organizations top prospects for Vezina nominee Connor Hellebuyck, but opted instead to upgrade their blueline to improve the club’s overall defense.

“When I talk about prioritizing how we make our team better, we felt that the back end especially, if we were able to get deeper and to get six (to) eight guys (who are) really solid NHL players,” Adams said. “That’s going to insulate our goaltending a little bit. It’s going to make the team a little bit stingier defensively and we have a ways to go in that area.”

Johnson is expected to slot in as a defensive partner for fellow former top overall pick Owen Power, while Clifton will fill the same role he played in Boston, as a bottom-pairing defender and penalty killer.