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Linus Ullmark

(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

The Sabres Made The Right Call Letting Linus Ullmark Walk

Linus Ullmark
The Sabres made the right call letting Linus Ullmark walk. It’s cleared the way for Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen who appears to be a young star in the making. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

The Sabres Made The Right Call Letting Linus Ullmark Walk

See ya! That’s what the Buffalo Sabres said this offseason to Linus Ullmark. The new Bruins goalie signed a 4-year contract worth $20 million this past offseason. While the $5 million average annual value isn’t an absorbent cost, letting Ullmark leave was the correct decision.

Ullmark, 28, is off to a shaky start with Boston. In my opinion, I was always against the Ullmark move. I thought the Bruins should have had faith in the young Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar tandem. Especially when it feels inevitable that Tuuka Rask is returning at some point. Vladar was traded (Unfortunatley) and Ullmark was given a decent sized contract.

The man has not delivered thus far. Ullmark’s numbers have basically been the same as they were a year ago. Except that shouldn’t have been the case with a much better Bruins team in front of him. Ullmark hasn’t been awful but hasn’t done anything to write home about either.

Ullmark is currently posting a SV% of .919 and GAA of 2.55. The QS% sits at .538 which is basically league average. That’s all fine… except for the part where the Bruins are paying Ullmark way too much money to be their third string goalie. Which is what’s going to happen when Rask returns. Swayman has frankly just been the better guy on a consistent basis.

For Buffalo, this almost really doesn’t have anything to do with how Ullmark is performing in Boston. It has everything to do with the Sabres’ young phenom, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Let’s call him UPL for short?

UPL is unbelievable. He’s a young goaltending that’s spry and gets it. Will be a star down the road. Book it. Small sample size, but thus far during the 2021-2022 season, UPL has a SV% of .927. It gets more impressive when you do more digging. That includes a .931 SV% when facing the power play and QS% of .714 which is out of this world good. He’s basically saving over 70% of high danger chances when around 50% is usually league average. The kid’s got it.

UPL is a long 6-foot-5 but lean 217. Covers a lot of ground and gets to the spot he needs to be. It might be safe to say that the Sabres landed a steal with the 54th pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

The Sabres are still really bad but they’re starting to turn the corner. The Jack Eichel trade may never seem ideal but Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs are already making contributions. Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens are also starting to be real guys. Rasmus Dahlin will figure it out eventually. Add UPL in the mix and Buffalo seems like they have a semi-bright future.

Maybe one could argue that it would have been smarter to trade Ullmark at last year’s trade deadline. However, moving on was the right call. Ullmark has been (and likely will be moving forward) average with the Bruins and it’s helped clear the way for UPL to take over. His time is coming.


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