The Buffalo Sabres have struggled to find consistent netminding all year, and now appear to be throwing another name into the ring. The Sabres have acquired Malcolm Subban from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for future considerations.
Subban, 27, is certainly not a guaranteed upgrade to the goaltending the Sabres have at the moment. A first-round pick from 2012, the veteran netminder has just 82 games of NHL experience to this point most of that coming with the Vegas Golden Knights as the team’s original backup. Subban posted a .901 save percentage in those 63 appearances with Vegas, but has a .899 overall for his career. Last season, he played in 16 games for the Blackhawks and posted a .900, but was pushed down the depth chart once again when they acquired Marc-Andre Fleury in the offseason.
After clearing waivers at the start of the year, Subban was sent to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL where he has appeared in three games. While his numbers there certainly don’t paint a pretty picture, this move will allow the Sabres to leave Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, still the team’s top goaltending prospect, in the minor leagues while Subban helps the NHL squad.
Currently, the team was going with a tandem of Dustin Tokarski and Aaron Dell, as Craig Anderson continues to deal with an injury. Those two have combined for an .894 on the season so far, not exactly what the team is looking for as they try to support their young roster. It’s not that the Sabres are really trying to contend for the playoffs as they start another rebuild, but it’s difficult to develop any talent when they’re losing every night. The team is 3-6-1 in their last ten and plummeting down the standings, thanks in part to goaltending that has allowed the fifth-most goals against in the league.
It’s also a great opportunity for Subban, if only to show that he can be an NHL backup again at this point in his career. His two-year contract will expire at the end of the season, at which point he’ll be looking for a new job. Given that the deal is a one-way contract, he was still earning his $950K salary in the minor leagues. The Blackhawks can cross that off the books now that he’s with Buffalo, even if they aren’t really getting anything of value in return.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet was first to report a deal was being worked out.
More to come…