One of the biggest questions heading into training camp for the Buffalo Sabres is who will start in goal? The Sabres currently have two veterans in Michael Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth who will most likely split time to begin the season. However, with an abundance of goalie prospects in the system, there will be many options in goal down the road for the Sabres.
Neuvirth was acquired by the Sabres from the Washington Capitals in exchange for Jaroslav Halak. Although he only started two games for the Sabres before an injury ended his season, Neuvirth impressed to say the least. At 6’1 and 199 lbs, Neuvirth possesses decent size and should get another shot to prove he can be a full-time NHL starter.
Enroth will be given an opportunity to compete for the starting job alongside Neuvirth. Although Enroth lacks size, he makes up for it with his positioning. This is an essential asset for an NHL starter. Enroth will have to prove he can stay healthy to be a full-time starter.
Drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NHL draft, Lieuwen appeared in seven games for the Sabres this past season posting A 2.98 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. Lieuwen possesses ideal size that general manager Tim Murray looks for in goalies, as he stands at 6’5. Lieuwen will most likely start the season in Rochester, but if Enroth or Neuvirth are unable to stay healthy, the Sabres will not hesitate in calling up Lieuwen.
Hackett will be out until the New Year, as he is recovering from a torn ACL. When healthy, Hackett will most likely compete with Lieuwen for the starting position in Rochester. Hackett must prove he can mature and play more consistent if he wants to make the jump to the NHL.
The Buffalo Sabres have an impressive trio of goaltenders who have the potential to make an impact down the road. Linus Ullmark, Cal Petersen, and Jonas Johansson all have that size that Tim Murray loves, and have also shown the ability to win in their respective leagues. Although it may be a few more seasons until these goalies will be ready, it is hard not to get excited about the future of the Buffalo Sabres.
Sabres fans can expect Neuvirth and Enroth to split time at seasons start. If either Neuvirth or Enroth go down with an injury or do not perform at an NHL level, the Sabres will waste no time in calling up Lieuwen. Both Neuvirth and Enroth are in contract years, and will be proving to the Sabres that they belong in the NHL.