On Friday, Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger indicated that he was hopeful that goaltender Linus Ullmark would be in a day-to-day situation after missing their two games this weekend. Unfortunately for him and Buffalo, that isn’t the case. Speaking with reporters before Saturday’s matinee, including Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News, the best-case scenario for the netminder is that he’ll be back in a month.
Ullmark suffered the lower-body injury in the first period of Thursday’s game against New Jersey after making a stop on Nico Hischier. Carter Hutton took his place after the period ended and is likely to play both games against the Flyers this weekend, but Harrington suggests that the Sabres might have to look outside the organization beyond that point.
That could be a good idea for GM Kevyn Adams. While Ullmark has done well this season with a 2.44 goals-against and a .919 save percentage, Hutton’s regression has continued. After putting up career-worst marks in GAA (3.18) and SV% (.898) in 2019-20, he has failed to improve upon those this season, checking in at 3.24 and .889, respectively, heading into Saturday’s contest. Technically still just six points out of a playoff spot, their postseason hopes aren’t entirely dashed, but relying on Hutton to carry the load while trying to stay in the mix would be risky.
However, goaltending depth has been hard to come by this season as they’ve been snatched up off waivers routinely to the point where some teams are simply carrying three goalies to avoid the risk of losing their third-stringer for nothing. That means that trading for a short-term upgrade is even going to be harder than usual.
In the meantime, Jonas Johansson has been promoted from the taxi squad and will serve as Hutton’s backup this weekend. We’ll soon see if they’re able to bring someone else in or if they’ll indeed be filling Ullmark’s absence internally until he’s able to return.