The Buffalo Sabres haven't officially ruled out a return for either of their two regular goalies. But it seems likely that neither Carter Hutton nor Linus Ullmark will be back this season and the net will belong to Dustin Tokarski and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen the rest of the way.
On Nov. 2, 2019, outside a cramped visitors’ dressing room at CAA Centre in Brampton, Ont., …
Luukkonen will make his second NHL start tonight in Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. Following the morning skate, interim coach Don Granato said Hutton suffered a setback in his recuperation from a left leg injury he suffered early in the game at MSG on March 22. Hutton had been skating on his own and had not yet rejoined the team. Ullmark suffered his second lower-body injury of the season during the April 13 shootout loss in Boston and has also not returned.
"Hutton had a setback so what that means, I don't have clarification on it," Granato said. "We have not and are not going to say he's out for the year and won't play one of the final couple games. He still has a chance of that but he did have a setback. So where we were hopeful (Hutton returning) would have been the case, now it's more of a question. He's back home, we're on the road so I won't have a definitive response to that until we get back.
"Ullmark is not in the picture at this point. Just by his progress, the last update I had on him. So what we have right now (Tokarski and Luukkonen) is our focus."
Tokarski has been a winner a lot in his career. He's earned a Memorial Cup in Spokane, a World Junior gold for Team Canada and two Calder Cups in the AHL.
Tokarski relieved Hutton the night he was injured and made his Buffalo debut. The 31-year-old was named the NHL's First Star of the Week for the period ending April 19 and has gone 2-7-2 with a 3.23 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.
Both Hutton and Ullmark are unrestricted free agents but at very different points in their careers. Hutton, 35, is 1-10-1 this season with a 3.45 goals-against average and .886 save percentage in the final season of a three-year contract that paid him $2.75 million per season. It's unclear if he would seek a new deal from another team or retire. Ullmark, 27, is 9-6-3, 2.63/.917 but has suffered three injuries in the last two seasons that could hinder his ability to cash in on a bigger money deal with the Sabres or someone else.