Will He Sign? Let's talk Devon Levi and the Buffalo Sabres


I am constantly seeing fans expecting Levi to come in here and rescue this team's goaltending woes.

I'd like to start there.

I'll ask you before you read this fanpost to think of your expectations for Levi:
1) Will he sign with BUF?
2) When do you expect him to play 41 or more games at a good level (league average sv% is .905 btw)
3) How long will it be until you say he sucks and expect Leinonen to be our savior


Okay, on with the fanpost. I've been telling people that Levi is 3-7 years away from being our bonafide starting goalie, and that's IF we manage to sign him and IF he's as good as many of us seem to think he is.

So, let's talk goalies in NHL history. A perfect example to me is Ryan Miller. Another collegiate goaltender who we are all very familiar with. Dude won a Vezina and will go down in Sabres lore.

  • He played 3 years at MSU. His last 2 years he had a .950 followed by a .936 sv%
  • Then he went to ROC. Posted a .920 ( oh by the way he was 22 years old at this time)
  • He played 15 games in BUF that season. His 1st 2 games he posted a .840 and then a .810. (Can you imagine the fans screaming he sucks?) He ended up playing 15 games with BUF and finished with a .902sv% (pretty bad back then)
  • In his age 23 season, he played 3 games for BUF and posted a .795 sv%
  • In his age 24 season, he took over playing 48 games and a .914
To me, that is the best case scenario for the large majority of goalies. Age 24, with lots of experience you can really take over. He had 170 AHL games and 18 NHL games before that season where he became our starter.

Now, Ryan Miller is kind of a best case scenario kind of guy. Let me show you Exhibit B. Cayden Primeau. A highly thought of Goalie prospect. He's still young, so he might be on your radar soon.

  • In 2 years at Northeastern, he posted .931 and .933.
  • Played in the AHL 33 games with a .908
  • Then 16 games with a .909
  • Then 33 games with a .909
  • This year 12 games with a .893
  • He's 23 years old now and has 18 NHL GP with a .874sv%

Okay, okay. I know I've just cherry picked 2 players here. They are just 2 exhibits of 2 random players.

Well, I also went back and dug into hockey-reference and collected larger data samples for you to chew on.

In the past few years:

This year:
Knight (21) 7-3-3 .919 2.61
Schmid (22) 4-0-0 .953 1.24

Last year:
Knight (20) 19-9-3 .908 2.79
Daws (21) 10-11-1 .893 3.11
Primeau (22) 1-7-1 .868 4.62
UPL (22) 2-5-2 .917 2.74
+ 11 other guys who combined to play 31 games with sub .900 sv%

Swayman (22) 7-3-0 .945 1.50
Oettinger (22) 11-8-7 .911 2.36
Hart (22) 9-11-5 .877 3.67
+ 7 other guys who combined for 28 GP.

Best case is he is as good as/ better than Knight. Which is kind of funny considering Levi was behind Knight in FLA. Knight is now splitting time and outperforming Bob. So, maybe he gets ~41GP this year. It should be noted that he had 36 NHL games over 2 seasons before this year. It should also be noted that UPL put up better numbers than Knight last year (albeit in fewer games played).


I thought that was still kind of a small sample size. So then I went back 10 years:

I went back to the 2013-14 season.

Since then, 4 goalies age 22 or under played 40 or more games:
Vasilevsky (22) 50GP 23-17-7 .917 2.61
Murray (22) 49GP 32-10-4 .923 2.41
Hart (21) 43GP 24-13-3 .914 2.42
Gibson (22) 40GP 21-13-4 .920 2.07

So, in the previous 10 seasons, 4 goalies have come in and at least played 40+ games.

Vas had 40 NHL GP before that 50GP season.
Murray had 13 NHL GP
Hart had 31GP
Gibson had 26GP

So, absolute best case scenario is that Levi signs after this season and maybe gets a few NHL games in. Then next year he maybe gets a few more NHL games. Then at his age 22 season he is somehow Vas, Murray, Gibson level. Odds are very much against that. Or he plays well, like Hart and suffers a serious regression.Or he plays like the 99% of other goalie prospects and barely registers a blip on the screen.


So again, I'd like to ask you what are you expecting from Levi and when?

I'd also like to ask you if you are down on UPL, and if you are why are you down on him?

And if you are down on UPL, how long will it be before you are down on Levi?


I remember when people here were down on Ullmark. Well, lookie, lookie, who is the best goalie in the NHL right now?

By the way, he is 29 years old. It might just take Levi 3-9 years...

This is a FanPost written by a member of the community. It does not necessarily express the views or opinions of Die By The Blade.