The Buffalo Sabres added goaltending depth to the organization today, signing Dustin Tokarski to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $725,000.
The veteran, one of the AHL’s most experienced goalies, is likely ticketed for the Rochester Americans, where he can help mentor goalie prospects Jonas Johansson and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
Tokarski’s arrival means Luukkonen, Buffalo’s top goalie prospect, could spend part of the upcoming season, assuming it can be played, with the Cincinnati Cyclones, the Sabres’ ECHL affiliate. Luukkonen, 21, played 23 games with the Cyclones last season and 10 contests with the Amerks.
The 6-foot, 198-pound Tokarski, 31, also gives the Sabres an option if goalies Carter Hutton or Linus Ullmark struggle or get injured. Tokarski has compiled a 10-12-5 record with a 2.84 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage in 34 career NHL games.
Tokarski’s two-year deal means he can be exposed to the Seattle Kraken in next year’s expansion draft. NHL teams must leave one goalie unprotected who is under contract for 2021-22 or has been qualified an offer as a restricted free agent.
Tokarski made his last NHL appearance in 2016-17, when he played 10 minutes for the Anaheim Ducks. He has also played for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens.
He spent most of 2014-15 in Montreal, playing a career-high 17 games. The previous season, he played five playoff contests for the Canadiens.
But Tokarski has mostly toiled in the AHL throughout his 11-year career, compiling a 192-120-16 mark with a 2.50 goals against and a .912 save percentage in 361 games with nine teams.
Tokarski went 5-0 during the Charlotte Checkers’ run to the Calder Cup title in 2019. He spent last season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, posting stellar numbers – 9-5-2, 1.97 and .924 – in 18 games.
Tokarski was a decorated junior player, winning Western Hockey League and Memorial Cup championships with the Spokane Chiefs. He also won a World Junior Championship with Team Canada.
The Lightning drafted him in the fifth round in 2008, 122nd overall.
Luukkonen has been playing this season on loan with HC TPS, a Finnish Elite League team, because the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the start of the North American seasons.
The Sabres loaned Johansson to the Krefeld Penguins, a team in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany’s top pro circuit, last week. Johansson, 25, played his first six NHL games last season.