BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Just a few days removed from his fresh new $2.6 million contract, Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark says this season, he’s feeling more prepared to be a goalie in the NHL than ever before.
“Experience, first of all. The more experience you get, the easier everything else gets,” Ullmark said to reporters on Zoom on Thursday. “I’ve only played my second season with the Sabres, I’m fairly new to this NHL hockey, so with every game that goes by, not to say it’s certainly easier, but some things are going to fall into place both mentally and physically, and how to read the game and how to act on the game.”
After spending the beginning of his career in the Swedish Hockey League then moving up to play for the Rochester Americans, Ullmark has worked his way up to playing in the big leagues of the NHL. But playing in the SHL and AHL are completely different than being in the net in the National Hockey League.
“The pace of the game is way quicker, passes are crisper, shot is more accurate, being able to read and react in a more natural way when you’re in a more chaotic AHL and maybe more structured SHL. That has become better and better the more games I’ve played, because experience has built up on itself,” Ullmark said. “That transcends to what I’ve been talking about before, experience makes a huge difference for a goaltender. The repetitions, the movements, everything I do everyday is helping me to take the next step.
“Doing that in full speed against better players is helping me to act in a natural way and not in a more fabricated way. Even though you want the world to be so perfect and you want the shot to hit you in the chest, it’s not going to happen when you’re in the show, it’s certainly going to go top shelf bar down if you’re not careful.”
Ullmark started 34 games for the Sabres in the 2019-20 season, and made 975 saves on 1,066 shots. With his one-year contract, Ullmark says it shows that Ralph Krueger and Kevyn Adams believe in his abilities to be the Sabres goaltender.
“It’s always a time to prove myself. Doesn’t matter if I’m on a one, two, or three year deal. It doesn’t take away the things that I need to do everyday to prove myself for being a starting goaltender in this league,” Ullmark said.
“It’s pretty obvious that you as a goalie need the support from everyone. If the coach and GM don’t like you, you’re not going to stay on the team. I’m very fortunate and happy to continue on in my journey with the Sabres. To prove every doubter wrong is probably the most satisfying thing as a goaltender, aside from saving every shot in a game. It’s going to be my goal to take my game to the next level and prove myself.”