Sabres Goalies vs. Atlantic Division Rival Netminders (Part Two)

<em>How Does Buffalo Measure Up to Other NHL Competitors?</em>

This is Part Two of Sabres goalies vs. their Atlantic Division rivals. Readers who’d like to read Part One can find it here.

The Buffalo Sabres have been rebuilding their defensive depth, including in front of the net. While major rivals such as Tampa Bay, Florida, Boston and Toronto have their own netminding strengths and weaknesses, current lower-ranked competitors in the NHL’s East are also worth a look.

The Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings, like the Sabres, are in a rebuilding mode. While not a playoff contender yet, Detroit has been shoring up its goaltending department. Last summer, the Wings acquired Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and goalie Jonathan Bernier’s free agent rights.

Nedeljkovic helped the Canes get past Nashville in the NHL Playoff’s first round in 2020-21. He also won third place in Calder Trophy voting as NHL Rookie of the Year. The Red Wings goalie has a career .909 save percentage and 2.86 goals against average. His numbers for his first season in the Motor City are a still impressive .901 and 3.31, respectively.

Detroit also picked up goaltender Ville Husso from the St. Louis Blues. The Red Wings gave the Blues a 2022 Entry Level Draft third-round pick in exchange. Husso, with just two previous seasons in St. Louis, has a career .912 SV% and 2.74 GAA.

Wings GM Steve Yzerman told he’s pleased with his team’s two recent goaltending acquisitions: “I think we’ve got two guys we can put in the net every night and give us a reasonably good chance to win.” The Sabres will have to turn up the pressure to get pucks past these two.

The Montreal Canadiens

Montreal is another franchise trying to claw its way out of the bottom of the NHL standings. The Habs have been busy getting goaltending depth, signing seven goalies under contract at both their NHL team and their AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket. Back in July, Trege Wilson of The Hockey Writers opined that everything depended on top netminder Carey Price’s health. If Price went down, the club would have to use the other pieces it put in place.

A few weeks ago, Montreal GM Kent Hughes announced that Price would be unlikely to play at all in 2022-23. With their star netminder unable to suit up this year, the Habs will be forced to turn to their other goalies. Their two backups are Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault.

Allen’s stats are a career .911 SV% and 2.60 GAA. In his past two seasons with the Canadiens, his numbers were .906 and .301. By comparison, Montembeault can boast of a slightly lower .892 career SV% and 3.54 GAA. His stats for his first full season in Montreal were .891 and 3.77. Both goalies are good, although the Sabres and other teams will probably face Allen most of the time this year.

The Ottawa Senators

The Senators are the third Atlantic Division franchise attempting a comeback this upcoming season. Daniel Bruce of Fansided’s Ottawa blog, Senshot, recently analyzed the Sens’ goalie situation. Last year’s starter Anton Forsberg remains the favorite to be the top Ottawa goalie this year. Forsberg had a .917 SV% and 2.82 GAA between the pipes in 2021-22. Bruce believes that even though backup Cam Talbot might start, Forsberg still has the skills and youth to be the Senators’ No. 1 netminder once again.

Backup goaltender Cam Talbot also enjoys impressive stats. With a .915 SV% percentage and 2.63 GAA, Talbot would be a stating goalie on many teams. In his last season in Minnesota, the netminder enjoyed a .911 SV% and 2.76 GAA. If he can keep his numbers up in Ottawa, the Sens will have two good goaltenders on their roster, a major obstacle for other team’s offenses.

Adam Proteau of The Hockey News called the Ottawa Senators one of the most improved teams heading into 2022-23. Goaltending is a big part of that improvement. The Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings both look to best the Boston Bruins for a playoff spot. With much better goalies, it’s possible Ottawa will be the third Atlantic Division franchise Boston needs to worry about.