The Buffalo Sabers signed goaltender Devon Levi to an entry-level three-year contract less than a week after the end of his college season with Northeastern, the team announced Friday. Here’s what you need to know:
- In July 2021, the Sabers traded Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a first round pick who became Jiri Kulich and the rights to Levi. At the time of the trade, Levi, a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, had not played a college game for Northeastern.
- In 2021, Levi set a record with a .964 save percentage at the IIHF World Junior Championship as he led Canada to a silver medal.
- He missed his first collegiate season with an injury. But when he took to the ice for the Huskies, he quickly became one of the best goalkeepers in college hockey.
In the 2021-2022 season, Levi had 10 shutouts, a .952 save percentage and a 1.54 goals conceded average as he led Northeastern to the NCAA Tournament.
He came back to school this season and had four shutouts, a .933 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average. The Huskies were eliminated from the Hockey East quarterfinals when they lost to Providence last week.
What is Buffalo’s plan for Levi?
Over the course of the past two seasons, Levi has become Buffalo’s best goaltender. General manager Kevyn Adams made it clear during the trade deadline how the organization felt about him, saying that Levi is “a very, very important piece to us.”
At the deadline, Buffalo traded the rights to goaltender Erik Portillo to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a third round pick, after Portillo made it clear that he had no intention of signing with Buffalo. That added even more importance to the Sabres’ signing of Levi.
Now that the contract has been signed, a team source said the plan is for Levi to report to Buffalo. While goalies typically take longer to develop in the minor leagues, Levi showed special talent at the collegiate level. He is one of three goalkeepers under contract with the Sabres next season, along with 24-year-old Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Eric Comrie.
Last summer, Levi got his first field experience with the Sabers organization at Buffalo development camp. It was then that he began to feel even better about his future in the organization.
“It was surreal,” Levi said The athletic in November. “It was the best week ever. It was so much fun. Everyone was so nice there, the players and the staff. It was great meeting fellow prospects and fellow players already playing in Rochester and Buffalo. It was great meeting everyone and competing with them. It just felt like being at home on the rink, meeting everyone and hanging out whether it was on or off the ice. It was just very homey. … I really had a great time and I look forward to the future.”
(Photo: Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)