It is no secret that Ryan Miller will be the Buffalo Sabres’ goalie of choice for the foreseeable future. But with Patrick Lalime leaving after this season—possibly sooner—who will be backing up Miller?
The answer, for the moment, is Swedish sensation Jhonas Enroth.
I don’t have to be a mind reader to know that 95 percent of you just said, “Who?” And while the 21-year-old from Stockholm is not well known at the moment, he will be soon.
Enroth was drafted by Buffalo with 46th overall pick in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He was the sixth goalie drafted, taken behind the likes of Simeon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth from the Washington Capitals.
Standing at 5’10”, Enroth is four inches shorter than Miller, something that many scouts considered a problem. However, whatever he lacks in size, he makes up for with unbelievably quick reflexes and strong discipline.
Sabres’ fans only chance to see Enroth in action was during a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Boston Bruins back in November. He faced 37 shots and stopped 33 of them.
While it might not have been the first game Enroth envisioned, he did play well for the most part. Two of the goals he let in were while Buffalo was a man short and the other two were the result of poor defensive breakdowns.
Enroth was definitely shaky early on and gave up a few bad rebounds, but after the first period he settled down and began to play his game. He even stopped two breakaways, keeping the score close in the process.
While he has played just one game in the NHL, Enroth’s numbers in the AHL are very good to this point. In 58 games last season with the Portland Pirates, Enroth was 26-23-3 with a .914 save percentage, a 2.75 GAA, and three shutouts.
In 34 games this season with Portland, Enroth’s numbers have improved. So far he is 19-14-1 with a .917 save percentage, a 2.41 GAA, and three shutouts.
Enroth has posted fantastic numbers through his career in the Swedish Elite League and in 2008 he led Sweden to the finals at World Junior Hockey Championships. His only loss came in the finals against an incredibly talented Canadian team which included John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, and Drew Doughty.
With Miller putting up the best numbers of his young career and a very capable backup waiting in the wings, Buffalo has a lot took forward to in between the pipes.