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Do the Buffalo Sabres Need A Starting Goaltender?

On the face of it, it seems pretty obvious. The Buffalo Sabres had four goaltenders between the pipes for the season with GAAs ranging from 2.94 to 3.67, just missing out on the playoffs by a couple of points. Surely the Sabres were going to upgrade at the position, right?

Well, it seems not.

Speaking in his media availability following the 2023 NHL Entry Draft and the beginning of free agency on Saturday, General Manager Kevyn Adams has continued to express confidence in the trio of Eric Comrie, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Devon Levi, despite their obvious inexperience.

“I really think we’re in a position of strength there, and I like what we have.” – Sabres GM Kevyn Adams

Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers’ Carter Hart are two names that have come up often, but the cost of acquisition seems to be the big stumbling block for both goalies.

That’s not to say that there has been no goalie movement since free agency started – Semyon Varlamov and Tristan Jerry stayed with the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins respectively, the pair of Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta remained at the Carolina Hurricanes and Joonas Korpisalo will go to Sabres’ division rivals Ottawa Senators.

Adams however would go on to explain his reasoning –

“The goalie market is very tricky. It’s not easy to predict. If there are teams that are looking to make trades, how many teams can actually do it and what’s the price you’re going to pay? All of that stuff is part of it. That’s why when you can have the strategy of building around the goaltenders you have, whether it’s drafting them or making a trade, I think that’s the best way to do it.

“You can go sign a veteran goalie that’s played a lot of games, but if you don’t think he’s better than the ones you have, why would you do that? So you can walk in here and say we got someone who played a lot of games? We have confidence in the guys we have.”

Either the Sabres management have their best collective poker-faces on, or else they are comfortable that the defensive additions they have made will ensure that their trifecta of goalies with less than a 100 combined starts under their belts do enough to break Buffalo’s hapless playoff drought. There does remain the option to add some help at the trade deadline where the Sabres have been more sellers than buyers in recent years, as long as Buffalo remain within touching distance of the postseason come March 1st, 2024.