Where does Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen rank vs. the NHL’s best goaltenders?

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen's strong run has recently placed him near the upper-echelon of NHL goaltenders as of January 19th, 2024.

Ottawa Senators v Buffalo Sabres
Ottawa Senators v Buffalo Sabres / Kevin Hoffman/GettyImages
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Few had a high opinion of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen coming into the 2023-24 NHL Season, and it was common to see debates among the Buffalo Sabres fan base regarding what the team should do with the 24-year-old. Ultimately, general manager Kevyn Adams hung onto Luukkonen, who has recently awed fans with a series of strong performances. But some of his more important stat lines vs. the NHL’s best goaltenders are also worth the look. 

These stats comprise all NHL goalies who have played in at least 20 games this year, so his position in the rankings may look differently from what you may see if you viewed them overall. Anyway, let’s start with where the Sabres No. 1 goaltender ranks in the most stat: save percentage. Following last night’s game, Luukkonen’s percentage of 0.909 on the season is good for 16th in the NHL, which may seem middle-of-the-road, but consider the following:

It places him ahead of prominent names like Jake Oettinger, Juuse Saros, Stuart Skinner, and Igor Shesterkin, to name a few. Luukkonen isn’t far behind top players like Ilya Sorokin and Logan Thompson, both of whom sit at a 0.910 save percentage. 

His goals allowed average (GAA) of 2.64 sits 14th in the league, currently ahead of former Sabre Linus Ullmark. Shesterkin, Oettinger, Saros, and Carter Hart all reside behind Luukkonen in the category, so once again, he’s faring better overall than quite a few top goaltenders. 

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been one of the better goalies overall in 2023-24

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s quality starts percentage rests at a solid 0.650, which vs. goaltenders who have seen 20 games of action, ranks an astounding eighth in the NHL. And now for the fun stat: Luukkonen’s three shutouts this season have him tied for fourth in the NHL with Jeremy Swayman and Samuel Ersson, and he is behind only Tristan Jarry, Connor Ingram, and Thatcher Demko, who ironically shut out the Sabres last Saturday

So, while Luukkonen has enjoyed a remarkable run over the past few weeks and played a pivotal role in the Buffalo Sabres starting the new year with a hot 5-2-0 record, these overall numbers also show us he’s still been playing rather well all season. Sure, his last six starts have helped dramatically, but it’s not like he’s on a hot streak after two-and-a-half ultra-pedestrian months. 

Luukkonen has struggled through rough stretches this season, which we discussed a couple of weeks back, but that stretch should not define his 2023-24 campaign any more than his current stretch. Let’s just judge Luukkonen so far by his overall output, and at this time, he’s been one of the NHL’s better goaltenders. 

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference and QuantHockey)