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Sabres Grades: Luukkonen, Levi Polar Opposites



Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Devon Levi Sabres grades

Wednesday’s loss to the Ottawa Senators was not all on the goaltending, but the Sabres Grades illustrate the drastic difference in performance between Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Devon Levi. Levi came into the game to relieve Luukkonen after the Senators took a 4-0 lead just 8:49 into the opening period.

Goaltending aside, only five skaters had above-average games. The team stumbling out of the gate in front of their goalies was just as startling as Luukkonen’s struggles, leaving everyone scratching their heads.

Must Read: ‘Disappointing’ First Period Leads to 6-2 Sabres Loss to Senators

If you missed the introduction to the grading system, we’re assigning letter grades to each Buffalo player based on game performance. The letter grades are assigned based on statistical computation, taking into account the following factors:

  • Production
  • Quality of offense
  • Quality of defense
  • Volume of offense
  • Volume of defense
  • Powerplay performance
  • Penalty kill performance
  • Penalties drawn and taken
  • Role
  • Minutes played
GradeLower LimitUpper Limit


Devon Levi

Grade: A+

This is Devon Levi’s second straight appearance with an “A+” grade, suggesting his time in Rochester has worked wonders for his confidence. The rookie netminder was put in a compromising position with his team down 4-0, and only conceded a goal to Brady Tkachuk on an incredible four-on-four passing play.

He stopped 32 of 33 shots in the game and had a delta save percentage on unblocked shots of about six percentage points betting than expected per Evolving-Hockey, at 97.7%. In other words, he negated over two goals on clean shots faced thanks to saves and positioning.

Levi will remain with the Sabres through the weekend. He’s likely to start one of either Friday or Saturday’s games before heading back to Rochester for their playoff run. If he continues to play at this level, Buffalo should be confident in their young goaltending tandem heading into next season.

JJ Peterka

Grade: B+

Production: C+
Offense: C+
Defense: C+
Special Teams: A

A few days ago, I wrote that JJ Peterka’s promotion to the top line with Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch won’t work for the Sabres. Peterka scored again as the first left winger, giving him four goals in three games since the promotion.

Must Read: Peterka With Thompson and Tuch Is Not The Answer

Yet, it didn’t work. The Sabres got crushed in the first period and no other line provided any sustained offense. The analysis and critique were more about balancing out the lineup, and since the trio has been together the offense has come from one source.

Head coach Don Granato has flirted with reuniting the “kid line” now that Jack Quinn has returned. It will be interesting to see how quickly he resorts back to playing Peterka with Quinn and Dylan Cozens to find some secondary scoring.

Rasmus Dahlin

Grade: C+

Production: C-
Offense: B+
Defense: D
Special Teams: B-

We’re at a point where Rasmus Dahlin’s “bad” games are still above average. He still was in the 90th percentile of offensive-zone shot attempts created for his team when on the ice. He also quarterbacked a dangerous Sabres powerplay that did not score amid a flurry of chances.

The troubles were in the defensive zone. Predictably, the quality of chances against Dahlin was very high, with the early onslaught and the star defenseman aggressively playing up the ice to get his team back in the game.


Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Grade: F

This is the second “F” for Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in three starts after giving up eight goals to the Edmonton Oilers last Thursday. Perhaps he’s worn down from the Sabres leaning on him heavily over the past two months, but it’s concerning that he’s trending down after such a spectacular 2024.

The first goal set the tone for the game, with the puck slipping through Luukkonen and sitting on the goal line. He’d like that one back, and probably at least two of the other three he let up.

The players took a lot of the blame off their star goalie. Connor Clifton said after the game that they felt bad for letting their goalie down. Regardless of fault, the results were not what they needed to be.

The good news is that Luukkonen will have time to redeem himself, with a possible eight of the last nine games with his name penciled in the starter’s spot.

Victor Olofsson

Grade: D

Production: F
Offense: D
Defense: B+
Special Teams: A-

Don’t let the special teams score fool you, Victor Olofsson was not a powerplay regular for yet another game. For Olofsson to be effective, he needs to shoot. He didn’t register a shot attempt the entire game.

Olofsson’s lost in his role with the Sabres and, for a team that needs scoring, the coaching staff doesn’t trust him. The remaining nine games are essentially an NHL tryout for the Swedish veteran, who needs to pick it up to market himself to another team this offseason.

Jack Quinn

Grade: D

Production: F
Offense: D
Defense: D
Special Teams: B

It’s hard to criticize Jack Quinn’s play in his first game back from the second significant injury he sustained this season. Quinn looked explosive in his skating, but the Senators’ top unit caved in his initial line with Cozens and Zach Benson.

Quinn’s recovery is important, as Peterka has surpassed him in development due to his health. If the next steps include the offensive jump his fellow draftee has taken, the Sabres should be excited about what they have next season.

Devon LeviG92%A+
Jj PeterkaF71%B+
Jeff SkinnerF51%C+
Rasmus DahlinD51%C+
Tage ThompsonF49%C+
Jacob BrysonD48%C+
Connor CliftonD43%C
Alex TuchF38%C-
Peyton KrebsF37%C-
Zemgus GirgensonsF36%C-
Jordan GreenwayF34%C-
Bowen ByramD32%C-
Henri JokiharjuD31%D+
Dylan CozensF26%D+
Zach BensonF26%D+
Owen PowerD24%D+
Eric RobinsonF24%D+
Jack QuinnF20%D
Victor OlofssonF20%D
Ukko-Pekka LuukkonenG0%F