Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25: #9 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
WJC Gold and OHL records push UPL into the top 10 in the “Top 25 Under 25”.
The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of six staff writers and over 500 readers that ranked players under the age of 25 by September 1st, 2019. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player.
Last year, he clocked in at #19 as the second-best goalie under 25 in the Sabres system according to votes.
After an impressive year with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL and for the Finnish U20’s in the World Junior Championships, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has climbed the ranks and comes in at #9 in this years ranking.
The 20 year-old goaltender, who had hip surgery in late April with an expected recovery time of six months, Luukkonen will be back around time for the upcoming season start in October.
A hip surgery at only 20 year old could be worrying but “UPL” is not the first Sabres goalie prospect to have it done at a young age, as Linus Ullmark had double surgeries before he turned pro in Rochester and Buffalo.
After having a couple seasons filled with ups-and-downs back home in Finland, both for his team and for the national team, Luukkonen moved to Sudbury before last season and got off to a great start in his North American career.
How about best save percentage (.920) in the OHL, Goaltender of the Year, receiving the Red Tilson Trophy as most outstanding player in the league, a nod for the OHL First All-Star Team for a first season summary?
To add to that, the 2017 second-round pick set franchise record for most regular season wins with 38 and had the most shutouts in the league (six).
With the Finnish U20’s, Luukkonen back stopped them to gold at the WJC. Luukkonen also was selected for the All-Star team.
After his banner year for Sudbury, who were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, Luukkonen signed an ATO with Rochester. He played in one game, which ended up as a 4-2 win over Belleville after he made 32 saves.
After recovering from his hip surgery, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen can look forward to a battle with Andrew Hammond for the starters role in the Amerks net.
#25 Miska Kukkonen
#24 Linus Weissbach
#23 Andrew Oglevie
#22 Jacob Bryson
#21 Casey Fitzgerald
#20 Marcus Davidsson
#19 Matej Pekar
#18 Ryan Johnson
#16 Oskari Laaksonen
#14 Will Borgen
#13 C.J. Smith
#12 Rasmus Asplund
#11 Tage Thompson
#10 Dylan Cozens