Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato made it official yesterday when he confirmed his goaltenders would end up in a timeshare.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has recently shown us why the Buffalo Sabres were smart to give him a chance instead of looking to trade and overpay for a veteran goaltender. Sure, Luukkonen has had his bad moments and has struggled with inconsistencies, but so far in 2023-24, he’s put forth a better sample size.
Devon Levi has played like a rookie with little NHL experience, wound up on injured-reserve for a short time, and has started in one game since. It’s going to be that kind of year for Levi early on, but for a 21-year-old goaltender making the jump from the NCAA to the NHL, he’s not going to be a superstar anytime soon.
Given the overall youth, inexperience at the NHL level, and inconsistencies, yet occasional encouraging outings, head coach Don Granato was correct in his judgment to refrain from naming a starter. Or even from stating one goaltender would see a substantial amount of playing time over the other. Instead, he’s going with a timeshare between the two goaltenders, stating:
"“I think UPL has been good. Devon was good the other night. There is no reason that I see right now that we should go to either one of them for a bulk right now. Who knows, that could change. But the way it sits, I think they both played fairly equal our last little bit.”"
Source: Practice Report | Savoie taking things day by day as he returns to practice with Sabres by Katelyn Kardaman, Sabres.com
Buffalo Sabres coach correct to roll with a timeshare
The timeshare will allow Levi to further acclimate to the NHL without having too much thrust upon his shoulders. If you remember correctly, the 21-year-old started the first four games of the season, which proved too much. It will also take pressure off of Luukkonen, who struggled in 2022-23 when he became the main guy in the net following an epic run in January 2023.
Whether this timeshare continues all season or if it’s just temporary, Granato, as his quote implied, is something that will play out depending on how well Levi and Luukkonen fare. But in the short-term, it was a good move from Granato and the Buffalo Sabres coaching staff.