3 most surprising Sabres players in 2023-24

The Buffalo Sabres may have surprised its fans with a disappointing season, but a few Sabres players surprised us for the better.
Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs
Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was arguably the Blue and Gold’s biggest surprise

Franchise goaltenders can sometimes come out of nowhere, even when only they and very few others believe in them. Hardly any of us were putting the terms ‘franchise goaltender’ and ‘Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’ in the same sentence back in October, but as the season winds down and Luukkonen could have two more starts left, he’s entering the 2024-25 season as the No. 1 goaltender. 

I have spoken a lot about Luukkonen all season, but there was always that nagging feeling that he would return to playing like the mediocre netminder we saw in 2022-23. That’s no longer the case, as his 0.910 save percentage, 2.56 GAA, five shutouts, and just 0.3 goals allowed above expected at even strength have solidified him as the Sabres clear-cut goaltender. 

It’s a refreshing thought, as the last time we could say that we knew who the starting goaltender would be following a strong season has felt like an eternity. Yeah, we all believed this time last year that Devon Levi would be the No. 1, but he only enjoyed a solid seven-game sample size, not a full season in the net. So the nod goes to Luukkonen, who, believe it or not, is the oldest player on this list of surprises.