The Buffalo Sabres may not have a healthy goaltender to dress tomorrow night. Michael Houser has been added to the COVID protocol, the latest in a series of unfortunate events to the organization’s netminders.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Malcolm Subban are dealing with long-term injuries. Aaron Dell is suspended and won’t be available until after the All-Star break. Houser is now in the protocol and will be unavailable, meaning the team only has Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski, both coming off injuries themselves, as options this weekend. Anderson hasn’t played in a game since the beginning of November, while Tokarski’s last appearance was November 29. Both are practicing at the moment but it is unclear if they will be cleared to play.
If one of those two is able to play, they will likely have to be the starter against the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow night. Otherwise, the team would have to use an emergency backup as–well, not the backup–or sign someone like Mat Robson to an NHL contract. Robson has played in just seven games for the Rochester Americans, spending most of his season in the ECHL. His current minor league backup, Charles Williams, was signed to a professional tryout just two weeks ago and has hardly any experience at the AHL level.
Even accepting that the team didn’t build a lot of NHL-quality depth at the position before the season began, it’s hard to fathom how so many netminders could be unavailable all at once. Even worse, the team isn’t even at home for the next three games, meaning whoever they bring as an emergency backup will have to travel with them to Arizona, Colorado, and Vegas.