The Buffalo Sabres Prospects Challenge will be underway in just under a week-and-a-half, and one notable listed “prospect” will not participate.
While we will see plenty of young talent at the Buffalo Sabres Prospects Challenge this week, goaltender Devon Levi won’t be among them. And the organization made the right decision. Last season, Levi proved he’s a legitimate NHL goaltender worthy of competing for a spot in the lineup, and he will battle for one with Eric Comrie and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen when camp arrives.
In nearly every situation, young goaltenders must spend time honing their skills in the AHL, even if they gained ample experience in the junior leagues or in college. But Levi has always been a special case, even if he is a former seventh round draft pick of the rival Florida Panthers.
Despite being so underrated at times thanks primarily for his lack of size, Levi has posted excellent numbers as of late. In college, he saw action in 66 regular season contests, and recorded 16 shutouts, plus a 0.952 and a 0.933 save percentage, respectively. He followed up his remarkable outing at Northeastern with seven starts in the NHL, tallying a 0.905 save percentage, and a 2.94 GAA in seven starts.
Buffalo Sabres right to hold Devon Levi out of Prospects Challenge
Keeping Levi fresh to compete with Eric Comrie and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for a spot in the lineup (spoiler alert: barring some catastrophic meltdown, Levi will be the 1A heading into the season) isn’t the only reason this is a smart move from the Sabres. Back in June, the Blue and Gold drafted an undersized talent in Scott Ratzlaff of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, and he should see plenty of action at the Prospects Challenge.
Ratzlaff has enjoyed a pair of stellar seasons in the junior leagues, compiling a 42-10-1 record and six shutouts over the past two seasons. He also posted a respective GAA of 2.48 in 2021-22 and 2.15 last season, along with save percentages of 0.904, and 0.918.
Ratzlaff could perhaps wind up as Levi’s 1B once his playing days are over in the WHL and after he serves a stint with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, as it’s highly unlikely he too goes straight to the NHL. And we will gain more insight into where he’s currently at from a skills standpoint when the Prospects Challenge begins next week.
(Statistics provided by Elite Prospects)