3 reasons Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is a legitimate Vezina candidate

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been arguably the Buffalo Sabres best player this season, and he is the reason they are hanging onto playoff contention.

Buffalo Sabres v Seattle Kraken
Buffalo Sabres v Seattle Kraken / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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Luukkonen is one of the league’s most productive goaltenders

This one’s obvious when you look at overall statistics of goaltenders who have played in at least 20 games. In this cluster of netminders, Luukkonen is fifth in GAA with 2.39, and third among goaltenders who have played in at least 40 games, with only Bobrovsky and Hellebuyck ranked higher. 

But that’s not all, as Luukkonen is also tied for 11th in the league in save percentage with Charlie Lindgren of the Washington Capitals at 0.915. It gets so much better, as Luukkonen spent his first 18 games played this season with a 7-8-2 record, an 0.892 save percentage, and 51 goals allowed before he finally got it together for 2024.

Since January 6th, we have seen Luukkonen in 26 games, allowing just 50 goals while posting a 0.930 save percentage. He also had a 16-9-1 record in that span, and it’s no coincidence that when he started producing, the Blue and Gold became a better hockey team. 

Last season, Buffalo won in spite of Luukkonen playing more games as the No. 1 goaltender than he deserved. But this year, the Sabres are winning in spite of their so-so play with the puck and sensational play from their goaltender.