The importance of extending Luukkonen

As the Sabres gear up for the offseason, the pressing need is to give Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen an extension. The question is for how much?
Buffalo Sabres v Montreal Canadiens
Buffalo Sabres v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Lindy Ruff has a few questions to answer as he returns behind the bench for the Buffalo Sabres. The biggest one is about Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Based on his stellar play this season, all that remains is for how much they will extend him for?

Over the course of the 2023/2024 campaign, he had 27 victories and a GAA (goals against average) of 2.57, the lowest of his career. He was the first Sabre since Ryan Miller to record four or more shutouts over the course of the season with five. During a game on February 25th, the fourth-year goalie shutdown the Carolina Hurricanes, blocking four shootout shots, en route to a 3-2 victory for Buffalo.

Luukkonen is set to become a restricted free agent in July. His contract was for $837,500 and he should make more if he is given an extension. Ukko should be due for a high and well-deserved payday. In an interview recently, he told reporters that he is open to long-term deal with the Sabres.

"I like Buffalo. I think we have a really, really good group of guys here who, as you said, are signed for a longer contract. In the end, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I for sure would not be against it.”

Looking at another goalie in the NHL, Luukkonen should be looking at least over $1 million per year. Jonathan Quick, for the New York Rangers, made $1.275 million next season after signing an extension. For New York, he had a GAA of 2.62 with a signing bonus of $500,000.

Last offseason, most analysts stated that if the Sabres could get a decent goalie, they'd break their playoff drought. Despite underwhelming expectations as a whole, Luukkonen shattered his. During Ruff's original coaching run, he had stellar goalies such as Miller or Dominik Hasek. Both he and the Sabres can hope Luukkonen can be added to that historical list.