CHICAGO – The Sabres need more goaltending. They got the best prospect in Europe.
Buffalo used the 54th overall pick to draft Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen from Finland. He was ranked No. 1 among European goalies by NHL Central Scouting.
“Luukkonen plays an effective butterfly style and does a good job of controlling rebounds," said Goran Stubb, the NHL's director of European scouting.
Luukkonen had a .916 save percentage and 1.78 goals-against average in 35 games this season, leading HPK Jr. to the league championship.
Internationally, Luukkonen backstopped Finland to a silver medal at the 2017 under-18 world championship. He also represented his country at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial and the 2016 under-18 world championship, where he was named to the tournament All-Star Team after helping Finland win the gold medal.
"I’m really excited," Luukkonen said in United Center. "It’s great to be part of this great organization. I knew it was going to be the second round. First round would have been great if that happened, but I knew it was going to the second round and I’m really happy about it."
"I talked to them at the combine. We had a great meeting there. They said they would be interested in drafting me."