Buffalo Sabres: Adams’ belief in Luukkonen is paying off

Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen played an outstanding game for the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, stopping 32 of 33 shots on goal. 

So far in the preseason, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has a 0.933 save percentage, a 2-0 record, and a GAA of 2.00. No, Luukkonen has not played against completely NHL-caliber rosters, but his head-turning play shows us that he’s not quite the disappointment many thought he was last season.

While Luukkonen looked good during his short stint in Buffalo with a 0.917 save percentage and a 2.74 GAA in 2021-22, he broke down when the Sabres reassigned him to Rochester. Luukkonen had his moments, but there was nothing less encouraging than his 3.28 GAA and 0.900 save percentage. It made both Sabres fans and the media wonder whether the Finnish product would be the guy moving forward.

Buffalo Sabres general manager correct to believe in Luukkonen

Luukkonen nearly had a shutout against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, but former Sabre Drake Caggiula scored with just over 90 seconds left in the contest to put the Penguins on the board. To be fair, it was basically a power play for the Penguins as they pulled their goaltender to add an extra skater.

After two stellar games, it shows us that general manager Kevyn Adams was correct in his belief that Luukkonen could become an NHL goaltender. It’s why he didn’t go out and sign a big name to a long-term contract, instead opting for the serviceable Eric Comrie to pair with Craig Anderson.

This past offseason, Adams remained stoic in his offseason moves, refusing to sign big name free agents to the organization, opting instead to give his younger players the opportunity to become permanent fixtures for the next few years.

Some criticized Adams and nailed him with a horrendous offseason grade. Other outlets praised him for sticking to his plan. Luukkonnen’s recent performances against the Washington Capitals last Sunday and the Penguins yesterday is just one of many examples that Kevyn Adams is right.

Players like Tage Thompson are having a remarkable camp after Adams received mixed reviews on extending the center to a seven-year contract after just one good season.  If Luukkonen and Thompson keep this up, and if the Sabres continue to improve this season, there needs to be two special rules when talking about Kevyn Adams.

Rule Number One: Kevyn Adams is always right. Rule Number Two: Remember Rule Number One. Adams believed in Luukkonen when few others did. And so far, that belief is paying off.

Article Source: Luukkonen stops 32 shots in preseason win over Pittsburgh by Jourdon LaBarber

(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference and Hockey DB)