The Buffalo Sabres are considered a rising star in NHL circles after missing the postseason by a single point last season, and that feeling is reflected in Sportsnet’s summer power rankings.
The Sabres are ranked 14th in the NHL rankings, and eighth among Eastern Conference clubs behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers. Buffalo is considered promising of their “burgeoning talent up front” which was ranked third in the NHL in scoring and their blueline with a pair of franchise cornerstones in Owen Power and Rasmus Dahlin, but the prospect of an inexperienced goaltending tandem of Devon Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is something that gives them pause.
Ratzlaff Hoping To Move Ahead In Sabres Future Goalie Mix
The current landscape of the Sabres goaltending mix is Levi and Luukkonen, and possibly Eric Comrie if he bounces back from injuries last season, but 2023 draft pick Scott Ratzlaff is looking to make his mark in the Western Hockey League after being selected in the fifth round (141st overall) by Buffalo last month in Nashville.
Ratzlaff played well for a loaded Seattle Thunderbirds squad last season (25-8-1, 2.15 GAA, .918 save percentage) and will likely get most of the starts for them this season with tandem partner Thomas Milic potentially graduating to the American Hockey League.
“We know how good he is and what he’s capable of. He just continued our string of great goaltending. Regardless of who was in the net, we had great goaltending.” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said to Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News. He saw Thomas was going to be away (to play for Canada in the World Juniors) and wanted to prove that the team wouldn’t skip a beat with him in the net. So, that’s precisely what he did. Scott really earned the games that he got.”
The expectation is that Levi will be holding onto the net for years to come, but there is an opportunity for Ratzlaff to move up the goalie prospect pipeline if he puts forth a solid season in Seattle, with 2019 draftee Erik Portillo traded to Los Angeles for a third-round pick in March, and 2022 second-rounder Topias Leinonen struggled at two levels in the Finnish system as a 19-year-old.