We know Buffalo Sabres goaltender Devon Levi will likely shed the prospect label in 2023-24, but for now, he’s among the best in the NHL.
As Buffalo Sabres fans, we would make the argument for Devon Levi to attain a Number One ranking among goaltender prospects. And after reading Scott Wheeler’s of The Athletic’s rankings, I would slot Levi in at Number Two at worst, just behind Jesper Wallstedt of the Minnesota Wild, but ahead of the Nashville Predators Yaroslav Askarov, who clocked in first and second, respectively.
It’s tough to put Askarov ahead of Levi, as the former has just one NHL start and he logged an 0.886 save percentage and a 4.15 GAA in that game. He did, however, play well with the Milwaukee Admirals, notching a 0.911 save percentage, three shutouts, and 2.69 goals allowed in 48 regular season games.
Wallstedt has yet to log an NHL start, but he’s been outstanding in the SHL and in international play. He didn’t look as good during his first season in North America, with a 0.908 save percentage and an 18-15-5 record with the AHL’s Iowa Wild. But his 2.68 GAA is encouraging, and he will likely make a giant leap this season now that he’s acclimated to the North American style.
Buffalo Sabres goaltender clocks in at Number 3 in recent ranking
One reason Levi should have clocked in at Number 2 is that, along with Wallstedt, Wheeler had nothing negative to say about him, while he had some critical feedback regarding Askarov. Levi also more than excelled not only in college, but in each level of hockey he’s ever played in.
Further, he was also forced into the lineup for seven games this past season, tasked with becoming the number one goaltender as the Buffalo Sabres playoff hopes hung by a thread, and excelled for a young player thrown into such a position. Translation: Levi faced and responded better to intense pressure than most rookie goaltenders.
We need to remember that he was playing college hockey just over two weeks before his unforgettable NHL debut. Levi also went 5-2 during this stretch, finishing with a 0.905 save percentage, a 2.94 GAA, and a 0.714 quality starts percentage. It also wasn’t like Levi faced bottom-of-the-barrel teams, and he played so well that, unless an unforeseen trade occurs, he’s being pegged as the 1A for 2023-24.
Overall, it’s always fun to see a top prospect in the system ranked among the best at their respective position. But Levi deserved a higher ranking than what Wheeler gave him.
Source: Ranking the top 10 drafted NHL goalie prospects, summer 2023 edition by Scott Wheeler, TheAthletic.com