Goaltender Jhonas Enroth may not have the clearest idea where or how much he’ll be playing next season, but his strong play at the 2013 IIHF World Championship helped lead Sweden to a gold medal. A 5-1 win over Switzerland on Sunday helped the Swedes become the first team to win gold in the tournament on home ice since 1986, and Enroth made 26 saves in the win.
Enroth now has a nice rainbow of medals, as he previously won bronze at the 2005 IIHF U18 World Championship and silver at the 2008 World Junior Championship. He saw action in only 12 games for the Buffalo Sabres this season, posting a 4-4-1 record while serving as Ryan Miller’s backup for a third season. The Sabres face a lot of pressure to not only sign the restricted free agent netminder, but to finally give him a chance to battle Miller for the starter’s job. How this scenario unfolds will be one of the most interesting parts of the Sabres’ offseason, as Miller’s poor performance and outspoken criticism of his teammates did little to help his case.
In 53 career appearances, Enroth has compiled a 21-18-7 record, with a 2.72 goals-against average. It’s never been easy for him to get starts with a workhorse goaltender like Miller ahead of him, but it may be too hard for the Sabres to keep holding him back. He’s likely in line for a decent raise (his cap hit was under $700,000 this season) whether he returns to Buffalo or finds work elsewhere, and now that he has proven himself on the international stage it will be hard to argue that a salary bump isn’t well-deserved.