The Buffalo Sabres have added some goaltending depth to the organization, signing Michael Houser to a one-year contract. The deal is worth $700K at the NHL level and represent’s Houser’s first NHL deal since his entry-level contract expired in 2015.
With Linus Ullmark out due to injury, the Sabres have Carter Hutton, Jonas Johansson and Dustin Tokarski (taxi squad) all at the NHL level to fulfil the league requirements. That leaves Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen as the only other goaltender in the organization signed to an NHL deal, something that could become an issue should the team have to deal with any other injuries.
Houser, 28, will be the beneficiary of that situation, earning an NHL deal despite not even having much experience at the AHL level. The undrafted netminder has spent most of his career in the ECHL, including 26 games for the Cincinnati Cyclones last season. Now on this new contract, he can be recalled to the taxi squad if necessary.
As John Vogl of The Athletic points out, it isn’t necessarily injury that the Sabres are preparing for, but potentially a trade of Hutton or Johansson. Both goaltenders are free agents after the season, with the latter qualifying as a Group VI unrestricted free agent if he fails to play 18 more games before the end of the season. If they deal either one, Houser’s contract allows the team to keep Luukkonen in the minor leagues, instead of recalling him to the taxi squad.