Buffalo Sabres: Time to give Linus Ullmark his chance?

BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Linus Ullmark
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Linus Ullmark /

With this season slowly swirling down the drain, surely Linus Ullmark should be given the opportunity to show what he can do in goal for the Buffalo Sabres?

Statistically speaking, the season is a long way from over for the Buffalo Sabres. With 54 games remaining, there’s plenty of time to turn things around and qualify for the playoffs.

Now, let’s deal with the reality of the Sabres’ situation. Entering Friday’s slate of games, they sit firmly rooted to the bottom of the Eastern conference, seven points adrift of 15th place.

In other words, whether this sounds defeatist or not, the season is over for the Buffalo Sabres. It’s going to take a major miracle to get this franchise back on track and stop their postseason drought extending to seven years.

Of course, the games still have to be played and Phil Housley should use the remainder of the season to find out more about the roster at his disposal. Talking of which, we believe it’s time to give Linus Ullmark an extended run in the team.

There are a number of reason for this, starting with the Sabres’ current one-two combo of Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson. Neither goaltender has done much to stop the run of disappointing results.

Both have had their moments during their respective NHL careers. However, this season has only offered more evidence that neither has what it takes to be a bona fide number one option.

Interesting, as per TSN‘s Darren Dreger, the Buffalo Sabres have apparently received calls about the duo. If they’re smart, they will look to move at least one of them during this season. (Lehner will be a restricted free agent after the 2017/18 campaign, while Johnson will be unrestricted.)

Turning to Ullmark himself, he’s done enough to earn another chance to show what he can do at the NHL level. He’s had an excellent season in the AHL, recording a 10-3-0 record and a 280 save percentage, helping the Rochester Amerks to second place in the North Division (behind the Toronto Marlies).

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The 24-year-old has shown promising development since being selected in the sixth round of the 2012 draft by the Sabres. He is outstanding at stopping the puck, has good size and intriguing upside.

No doubt, one of the counter-arguments will be that it’s too soon in the season to give Ullmark his extended run in the side. Putting him in now, would theoretically ruin any chance at recovering and making a playoff challenge.

However, the season is already swirling down the drain with Lehner and Johnson between the pipes. Surely it makes sense to put in Ullmark now, in an attempt to save the 2017/18 campaign?

Besides, if anyone is concerned about the Swede’s ability to perform at the top level, consider his career NHL win percentage, goals against average and save percentages (albeit from just 21 games). By comparison, they are all better than anything Lehner or Johnson have managed so far this season.

Overall, we’re not saying putting Ullmark in net is without risk, but how much can it really hurt, to give him a chance? He’s earned the opportunity, while the current duo are doing nothing to install confidence in the fans.

Next: Can Sabres compete with Lehner and Johnson?

What’s your take on Ullmark? Is it time to give him another shot with the Buffalo Sabres, or is it still too early in the season? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.