VANCOUVER – The breakthrough season by prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen did not prevent the Buffalo Sabres from selecting another goalie on Day 2 of the NHL draft.
With the 67th overall pick, fifth in the third round, the Sabres chose Erik Portillo, a 6-foot-6 18-year-old who spent this past season with the junior program of Swedish Elite League's Frolunda.
Portillo posted a .1.99 goals-against average and 931 save percentage over 26 regular-season games with Frolunda's Under-20 junior team, adding a .933 save percentage in four playoff contests. He is committed to attend the University of Michigan and his United States Hockey League rights are controlled by Dubuque, a franchise partially owned by Sabres winger Zemgus Girgensons.
Portillo did not attend the draft in Rogers Arena and was not among the top 12 European goalies ranked by NHL Central Scouting. He is the fifth Swedish player selected since Jason Botterill became general manager in May 2017 and adds to an organization that is expected to have Luukkonen, Carter Hutton, Linus Ullmark and Jonas Johansson under contract next season.
Though Luukkonen was named the Ontario Hockey League's most valuable player this past season, the 20-year-old underwent double-hip surgery this offseason and isn't expected to be ready for the start of Rochester's season. He was a second-round draft pick, 54th overall, in the 2017 draft, but Botterill and amateur scouting director Ryan Jankowski would not rule out using a high pick on a goalie this weekend.
Johansson, a third-round pick in 2014, had season-ending surgery for an undisclosed injury after spending most of this past season with Cincinnati of the ECHL.