The Buffalo Sabres may not have had the best season, but one of their prospects certainly did. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has won the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player, just the sixth goaltender to do so in the history of the league. Toronto Marlies forward Justin Brazeau and Dallas Stars prospect Jason Robertson came in second and third respectively.
Luukkonen, 20, also has the honor of being the first European import to ever win the award, which has been given out since 1945 (then by the OHA). The trophy is a prestigious honor, with plenty of past recipients going on to long prosperous NHL careers. Jordan Kyrou, Alex DeBrincat, Mitch Marner, Connor McDavid, Connor Brown and Vincent Trocheck are the past six winners, with other names like Ryan Ellis, John Tavares, Eric Lindros and Doug Gilmour all having taken a turn.
The Finnish goaltender was selected 54th overall by the Sabres in 2017, and was fantastic for the Sudbury Wolves this season. With a 38-11-2 record and .920 save percentage, he carried the Wolves all season. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for them to advance deep into the OHL playoffs, but Luukkonen did manage to get into one game with the Rochester Americans—in which he stopped 32 out of 34 shots for the win—before having hip surgery in late April.
Unfortunately, that surgery is expected to keep Luukkonen out for up to six months and could put the start of his first professional season in jeopardy. The young goaltender is set to join the Americans in the AHL, but will obviously have to prove his health before getting back on the ice.