If you would have asked Buffalo Sabres fans a season or two ago who the team’s future in net was, many probably would’ve said Linus Ullmark. Let’s face it, not many of us could’ve seen Robin Lehner in a long-term net minder spot with this team.
For the past few seasons, it seemed like Ullmark would be the Sabres’ future in net.
After being drafted by the Sabres in 2012, Ullmark played three seasons in Sweden before finally making the jump to North America.
Ullmark has appeared in at least one NHL game in each season since coming to the United States, but has also been developing his game at the AHL level with the Rochester Americans.
Although other goalies have come and gone through the Sabres organization in the past few years, Ullmark has been a consistent presence.
It certainly seemed like he could be the Sabres’ number-one netminder in the future.
Then Carter Hutton came along.
Hutton, seven years Ullmark’s senior, came into Buffalo with much more NHL experience, and impressed Sabres fans from the beginning.
Both goaltenders have had decent seasons so far, including particularly excellent starts, and both contributed to the Sabres’ success.
Ullmark is 5-1-3 in net this season, with his lone regulation loss coming on Saturday when the Sabres hung him out to dry against the Flyers. He has a 3.04 GAA and .913 save percentage, one shutout and even one assist.
On the other side, Hutton is 12-8-1 on the season with a 2.60 GAA and .917 save percentage.
Looking beyond this season - who is the future in net for the Sabres?
That, it seems, will depend on what happens in the next four months or so.
Ullmark is earning $750,000 this season and will become a restricted free agent in July.
Hutton is making $2.75 million this season and is set to make the same in each of the next two seasons. Pending anything else, he’ll become a UFA in 2021.
For now, it appears that the Sabres would be likely to keep both around for next season, unless they were to pick up another goaltender through free agency. They don’t really have any goaltending prospects down the line who would be ready to make the NHL jump next year.
At the AHL level, Scott Wedgewood will also become an RFA this summer.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is in the OHL right now, and the Sabres hold his rights through 2020-21.
Jonas Johansson will be an RFA in 2020.
Among goaltenders who could theoretically hit free agency this summer: Sergei Bobrovsky, Jimmy Howard, Cam Ward, Anders Nilsson and Ryan Miller.
So who is the Sabres’ future in goaltending?
Who is the Sabres future in goal?
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