Sabers sign goaltender Devon Levi to 3-year entry-level deal: What’s Buffalo’s plan for him?

The Buffalo Sabers signed goaltender prospect Devon Levi to a three-year, entry-level contract less than a week after his college season at Northeastern ended, the team announced Friday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • In July 2021, the Sabers traded forward Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a first-round pick that became Jiri Kulich and the rights to Levi. At the time of the trade, Levi, a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, had yet to play a collegiate game for Northeastern.
  • In 2021, Levi set a record with a .964 save percentage at the IIHF World Junior Championships while leading Canada to a silver medal.
  • He missed his first varsity season with an injury. But when he took the ice for the Huskies, he quickly became one of the best goaltenders in college hockey.

Back story

In 2021-22, Levi had 10 shutouts, a .952 save percentage and a 1.54 goals-against average while leading Northeastern to the NCAA Tournament.

He returned to school this season and had four shutouts, a .933 save percentage and a 2.24 goals-against average. The Huskies were eliminated in the Hockey East quarterfinals when they lost to Providence last week.

What is Buffalo’s plan for Levi?

Over the past two seasons, Levi has become Buffalo’s top goaltending prospect. General manager Kevyn Adams made it clear what the organization thought of him even before the trade deadline when he said Levi was “a really, really important piece for us.”

At the deadline, Buffalo traded the rights to goaltending prospect Erik Portillo to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a third-round pick after Portillo made it clear he did not intend to sign with Buffalo. This gave even more importance to the signing of Levi for the Sabres.

After the contract was signed, a team source said the plan was for Levi to report to Buffalo. While goaltenders usually take more time to develop in the minor leagues, Levi has shown a special talent at the college level. He is one of three goaltenders under contract with the Sabers next season, joining 24-year-old Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Eric Comrie.

Last summer, Levi got his first hands-on experience with the Sabers organization at Buffalo’s development camp. Then he began to feel even better about his future in the organization.

“It was unreal,” Levi said The Athletic in November. “It was the best week ever. It was so much fun. Everyone was so nice, the players and the staff. It was great to meet fellow prospects and fellow players already playing in Rochester and Buffalo. It was great to meet everyone and compete with them. I felt at home being at the rink, meeting and hanging out with everyone, whether on or off the ice. It was very homey. … I had a really good time and I’m excited for the future.”

Mandatory literature

(Photo: Rich Gagnon / Getty Images)

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