Without Jhonas Enroth’s splendid job subbing for an injured Ryan Miller, without his six critical victories down the stretch that helped push the Sabres into the postseason, Darcy Regier might’ve looked for a different backup goalie this summer.
But Enroth’s dazzling play as a rookie convinced the general manager the youngster could assume the No. 2 role full time for the upcoming season, and the Sabres inked the 23-year-old, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal Thursday worth $1.35 million, according to a Swedish newspaper.
“Without that, I don’t know that we would’ve had the same level of confidence,” Regier said inside HSBC Arena about Enroth’s late-season performance. “But he came in and played the way he played, had the record he had with Ryan being injured. (It) really gave him and gave us a lot of confidence in him.”
In his first extensive NHL action last season, Enroth’s clutch play turned heads. In 15 games, the diminutive Swede went 9-2-2 with a 2.73 goals-against average, .907 save percentage and one shutout. He set an NHL record by winning his first three games via shootout.
Enroth has averaged 54 games during his three North American seasons. Playing behind Miller could limit Enroth to 20 contests or less. If Enroth gets rusty, he could be sent to Rochester briefly.
“That’s the approach we are going take, that he will be here all year next year,” Regier said. “We’re in a position in the event that he would need a game in the minors he’s eligible to go and play a game or two games. But we’re heading into the season hoping both Ryan and him have terrific years. If that’s the case, I think it’s reasonable to think Jhonas will get enough playing time.”