The Buffalo Sabres have an obvious goaltender of the future. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has all the skills to become one of the very elite goaltenders in the NHL, but he’s not quite ready yet.
In 2018-19, his first season in North America, Luukkonen put up a .920 save percentage in 53 games for the Subury Wolves and won the OHL Most Outstanding Player award. He also backstopped Finland to a World Junior gold medal, posting a .932 save percentage in the process. While 2019-20 didn’t go quite as smoothly, Luukkonen was still a star for the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones as he continued his development at the professional level.
Now, with the start of the minor league season uncertain, Luukkonen will return to Finland and begin the year with TPS. The Sabres have loaned him to the Liiga club, though the announcement from TPS indicates it is only for the four to six weeks they will be without Rasmus Tirronen as he deals with an injury.
The 21-year old Finn has the size (6’4″), control and athleticism to be a star in the NHL, but we’ll have to wait a little longer before seeing him suit up for the Sabres.