The Buffalo Sabres have drafted and developed a number of youngsters currently playing in the NHL (Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Dylan Cozens), and the club under former GM Jason Botterill and current GM Kevyn Adams have been able to replenish the organization with young prospects. Throughout the month of August and leading into training camp next month, we will rank the club’s top prospects over the upcoming weeks based on their progress in either the NCAA, CHL, Europe, ECHL, or AHL and their potential to make the Sabres roster and make a contribution in the future. Players are eligible for the list if they have not played more than 40 NHL games and are 25 years old or younger:
#1 Devon Levi
Normally an organization’s top prospect has time to grow into the role of being a key contributor, but it is not an understatement to say that if Devon Levi does not live up to expectations, the Buffalo Sabres are not going to make the playoffs. The 21-year-old’s resume is impeccable.
Drafted in the seventh round by Florida in 2020, Levi was dealt to the Sabres in the Sam Reinhart deal in 2021. Within a year, he was named the top goaltender at the 2021 World Junior, the top goaltender in the NCAA, and made Team Canada for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Levi then went back to Northeastern University for his junior year, won the Mike Richter Award for the second straight time, signed his entry-level deal with the Sabres in March 2023, and played seven games down the stretch with Buffalo still in the playoff race.
TAKE A BOW, DEVON LEVI 🤯 pic.twitter.com/bRUi9KWUIg
— NHL (@NHL) April 5, 2023
It is understandable why the Sabres believe that Levi can handle the challenge before him. Sceptics point to the fact that no goaltender has stepped right from US College hockey into being a #1 NHL starter and in the 21st century, the only 21-year-old to do what the Montreal-area native is attempting is his idol, Carey Price.
“I’m not really thinking about that honestly. Like past goalies, future goalies. (I’m) just thinking about myself. Just going out and playing.” A confident Levi said on Friday. “I don’t know where I’m going to end up. It’s the coach’s decision. So for me, it’s just wherever I’m playing, being the best I can…..Whatever ice I step on, just focus on myself and try to be the best I can that day. It’s my focus just to have fun.”
The expectation is that Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will be the tandem, with Levi getting the majority of the work.