Rochester Americans goaltender David Leggio played a career-high 64 games during the AHL’s regular season this year, setting career highs in minutes, saves and wins. He’s set to enter the free agent market when his contract expires on July 5 – unless the Buffalo Sabres organization re-signs him.
Leggio, a native of Williamsville, signed a three-year contract with the Sabres organization in 2010. He played for the Portland Pirates and has spent the past two seasons with the Rochester Americans, where he has shone in the league overall and has played the majority of the team’s games each season.
He’s played so well, in fact, that it’s almost certain that other teams may be looking to sign him when he hits the free agent market on July 5. Although Leggio has been playing the starting role in the American Hockey League, he could easily earn a job in the NHL, either as a backup or possibly even be a contender for a starting role – and becoming an unrestricted free agent will certainly open his options.
So will he re-sign with his hometown organization, or elect to move elsewhere in the hopes of moving up?
The Buffalo Sabres goaltending situation is an interesting one.
At the NHL level, you’ve got Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth.
Miller has one year left on his contract and is set to earn $6.25 million next season. It’s been widely speculated that he may be looking for a trade, or that the Sabres could look to move him this summer, but there’s nothing set in stone and he could easily return to Buffalo for another year with the organization.
Miller, 32, appeared in 40 games this season, winning 17 of those games, and had a 2.81 GAA and .915 save percentage. Last season, Miller appeared in 61 of 82 games for the Sabres and had a 2.55 GAA and .916 save percentage. He won 31 games and earned six shutouts in over 3500 minutes of playing time.
Enroth, 24, will be a restricted free agent as of July 5. He earned $675,000 this season and appeared in 12 games, winning four and earning a 2.60 GAA and .919 save percentage. Last season, Enroth played in 26 games, winning eight and earning a 2.70 GAA and .917 save percentage. He also earned one shutout and two penalty minutes during the 2011-12 season.
At the AHL and lower levels, there’s a plethora of goaltenders who could be ready for the up-and-coming. First up, of course, is Leggio. The 28-year-old had 1,957 saves in 64 regular season games with Rochester this season. He had 38 wins and four shutouts, plus a .924 save percentage and 2.56 GAA – all career-highs. Last season he had a 2.63 GAA and .917 save percentage in 54 regular season games.
Newcomer Matt Hackett is sure to get a look from Sabres and Amerks management. The recently-acquired netminder played just three regular season games for the Rochester team, but was impressive with a 1.62 GAA and three wins. He also appeared in one playoff game, which the Americans lose 2-0. Before joining the Amerks organization, Hackett had a 2.66 GAA and .907 save percentage in 43 games for the AHL’s Houston Aeros. He’s set to be an RFA.
Twenty-three year old Connor Knapp has one year remaining on his contract. Knapp appeared in seven games with the Americans this season. He had a 3.34 GAA and .893 save percentage, earning one win and stopping 191 of 214 shots faced. Knapp also spent time with the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL, appearing in 12 regular-season games. He had a 3.05 GAA and .909 save percentage, going 5-7 in his stretch there.
There’s also 21-year-old Nathan Lieuwen, who appeared in four games for Rochester. He allowed nine goals on 111 shots, earning a 2.65 GAA and .919 save percentage. Like Knapp, Lieuwen also spent time with Greenville, appearing in 27 games with the ECHL squad. He had a 2.93 GAA and .903 save percentage and won 14 of 27 games played. Lieuwen won’t become a free agent until 2015.
While losing Leggio would certainly be a blow to the Rochester Americans, he’s had a few solid seasons that should put him on the radar of several NHL teams who may be searching for goaltenders come July. The Sabres organization has a number of goaltenders in the system that could move up and get a shot at the AHL – maybe even the NHL, if a tradedoes occur with Miller.
So – you tell me… will Leggio re-sign with the Buffalo Sabres organization, or move on to another team?