Devon Levi has played nine games this season. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres send rookie goalie Devon Levi to Rochester Amerks

As Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen recently emerged as the Buffalo Sabres’ top option in net, the end of their three-goalie rotation seemed imminent.

In winning three straight starts, Luukkonen has performed like the No. 1 netminder the Sabres envisioned years ago.

Something had to give and on Tuesday the Sabres sent rookie goalie Devon Levi, who started the first four games this season, to the Rochester Americans.

Going forward, Luukkonen will likely be the starter and be backed up by Eric Comrie. Levi, meanwhile, can receive the consistent work in Rochester he needs to develop.

Levi, 21, is the only one of the three goalies the Sabres can send to the AHL without waivers.

The youngster was trying to become the first goalie to bypass the minors and jump straight to the NHL from college. After leaving Northeastern in March following his junior season, he immediately grabbed the net as the Sabres battled for a playoff spot, playing seven of the final nine games.

His strong work – the Sabres fell one win short of the postseason – increased speculation he would be their starter this season.

But Levi suffered a lower-body injury in his fourth start on Oct. 19 and has played just five games since then.

When he returned earlier this month, the Sabres began rotating their goalies. Luukkonen, 24, and Comrie, 28, have recently outplayed him.

Levi last played in Saturday’s 7-2 road loss to the New Jersey Devils, relieving Comrie after the first period. He made his last start in Wednesday’ 4-3 overtime road loss to the Washington Capitals.

Overall this season, Levi has compiled a 3-4-1 record with a 3.73 goals-against average and an .876 save percentage in nine outings. He has allowed fewer than three goals just twice.

In Rochester, Levi figures to receive the bulk of the action. The Amerks also have goalies Dustin Tokarski, a decorated AHL player, and Devin Cooley.

Tokarski, 34, played 42 games for the Sabres over a two-year stretch. Cooley, 26, backed up one game in Buffalo this season. They’ve each played seven games this season.

The Amerks play road games Friday and Saturday against the Belleville Senators.

Luukkonen will almost certainly play Thursday’s road contest against the St. Louis Blues. In his last three games, the Finn has registered a 3-0-0 mark with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.

Right now, he deserves the majority of the starts.

In Monday’s 5-1 road win over the New York Rangers, he enjoyed perhaps the best game of his career, stopping 25 shots.

Overall this season, Luukkonen has compiled a 6-3-1 record with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 11 games.

The Sabres had Tuesday off. General manager Kevyn Adams is scheduled to address the media Wednesday morning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *