THW’s Goalie News: The Kids Can Play

Today’s edition of the Goalie News will be a little bit different. We are going to take a break from taking a trip around the National Hockey League and focus on some young goaltenders who might become fixtures of this daily post in the future.

Sabres’ Top Prospect Nearing Season Debut

The Buffalo Sabres used the 54th overall pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to select Finnish goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. The 6-foot-5 netminder signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres in June of 2018.

In 2018-19, his first full season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Sudbury Wolves, Luukkonen led the league in wins (38) and shutouts (6). He was also named the OHL’s MVP and best goaltender with a 2.50 goals-against average (GAA) and .920 save percentage (SV%). He made his professional debut with the Rochester Americans on April 14 against the Belleville Senators. He made 32 saves to pick up his first American Hockey League debut.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Team Finland
Luukkonen’s performance on the international stage helped lead to his high draft pick. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

Shortly after his win in Rochester last spring, Luukkonen underwent surgery to repair a nagging hip issue. He has yet to make his season debut, but he has been on the ice practicing with his team and looking forward to getting into some game action.

“It’s real nice to be back on the ice, with this team and having normal practices,’’ said Luukkonen. “It’s been a long time, but practices have started for me so I’m really excited and looking forward to a game.

“Right now, it’s just getting on the ice, playing in the games soon and seeing how that goes and build from there. It helped that I got to play one game here last year.”

From “Sabres’ top goaltending prospect Luukkonen close to start for Amerks” Democrat & Chronicle, 10/29/19

Primeau Taking Care of Business in Laval

Speaking of the AHL, Cayden Primeau is off to a great start for the Laval Rocket. The success he had at Northeaster University has followed him to the pro game. After his 38-save effort against the Providence Bruins on Saturday, he has improved his record to 3-2-0-0. He as given up just 10 goals in his five starts and has posted a 1.99 GAA and .937 SV%.

Cayden Primeau Montreal Canadiens draft
Primeau has successfully transitioned into the pro game. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Cayden, the son of former NHL forward Keith Primeau, was drafted in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. He signed an entry-level contract last March, but it might be hard for him to get to NHL. Carey Price is just in the second year of his huge eight-year, $84M contract with the Canadiens. On the bright side, that gives the team plenty of time for them to develop the 20-year-old Primeau.

Daws Coming into His Own

Nico Daws was part of the Guelph Storm’s 2019 Memorial Cup team, even though he did not play in the tournament. He put some rather pedestrian numbers in his first two OHL seasons. In 34 games, the teenager posted a 3.65 GAA and .886 SV%, but now that he is the number one goaltender in Guelph, he is shining in the role.

In his eight starts this season, Daws has a 2.30 GAA and .938 SV%. Last week, he won all three of his appearances by making 111 saves for a .949 SV%. He made 35 stops in a 4-0 win over the Mississauga Steelheads on Sunday for his second shutout of the season. He was named both the OHL Player of the Week and was part of the Canadian Hockey League’s Team of the Week for his efforts.

Schwebius Nabs his First Shutout

Cole Schwebius played his first season in the Western Hockey League with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2018-19, making 17 appearances and finishing with a 3.89 GAA and .886 SV%. This season, he is serving as Roman Basran’s backup for his hometown Kelowna Rockets. He could be seeing some more playing time with the way he has started the season.

In his three starts, Schwebius has a 1.66 GAA and .941 SV%. On Wednesday night, he led the way in a 1-0 victory over the Victory Royals. Despite being outshot 33-17, the Rockets found the win column thanks to Schwebius’ first career WHL shutout.

It was the first road shutout for the Rockets at the Royals since Adam Brown beat them by the same 1-0 score back on Feb. 6, 2010. Brown is currently the Rocket’s goaltending coach.