In a move to address backup goalie, the Sabres acquired Anders Nilsson from the Blues for a 2017 fifth round pick. They immediately signed the 26-year old Swede to a one-year deal worth a reported $1 million.
Originally an Islanders’ third round pick in ’09, he’s since bounced around the league. Nilsson went from the Blackhawks to the Oilers following a good season with Kazan AK-Bars where he won 20 games and posted a .936 save percentage in the KHL. He started out well in ’15-16 even putting Cam Talbot on the bench during the first half.
But Nilsson couldn’t maintain his level- falling to 10-12-2 with a 3.14 goals-against-average and a .901 save percentage. Eventually, Talbot regained the starting role with Edmonton. Eventually, the Oilers moved Nilsson to St. Louis on Feb. 27. He only appeared in three games allowing four goals on 44 shots.
Now, he is with his fifth NHL organization and third in a year. Nilsson will be the favorite to be the Sabres’ backup behind starter Robin Lehner. He should get stiff competition from Linus Ullmark, who won 10 games with a 2.60 GAA and .913 save percentage in his rookie year.
Somewhat astonishingly, all three Buffalo netminders are Swedish. Each are two years apart in age with Nilsson the elder statesman at 26. That’s followed by Lehner (24) and Ullmark (22).