With the NHL‘s free-agency frenzy slightly over a month away, the Buffalo Sabres will be faced with some in-house decisions regarding the status of certain players. We intend to look at each situation, provide some analysis (the key word is some) and share our opinion on where they will wind up. Who shall stay and who will depart? We’ll now be moving on to Matt Hackett.
Contract Details: Pending restricted free agent.
Last Year: Salary of $740,000 and cap hit of $198,000.
The Scoop: As it stands, Hackett is the third-string goaltender in Buffalo, playing behind Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth. It is a familiar predicament for the 23-year-old, as he was contending with Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding while a member of the Minnesota Wild. With only 13 games under his belt in the NHL, it is abundantly clear that Hackett has not seen a wide window of opportunity, but that should be changed with the Sabres.
Why They Would Want to Keep Him: Hackett has achieved success at every level he has played at, from the OHL to the AHL, and he will be prepared to serve as a back-up netminder. If he is not quite ready yet, he will spend additional time with the Rochester Americans, where he has started brightly by winning his first three games and sporting a .955 save percentage. Hackett is ultra aggressive in the crease and is extremely athletic for someone his size (6-foot-2). He will be chomping at the bit to see more starting nights than he did in Minnesota and as such, he will have extra motivation not to let in any soft goals.
What Will Worry Them: With little experience in the NHL, Hackett’s dossier is lighter than most and his tenure in Buffalo could be hit-or-miss completely. Rebound control is where he often struggles and his aggressive style leads him to abrupt reactions that give scorers the edge on him.
Final Verdict: Even if he needs another year in the AHL, Hackett will be re-signed because he is set to be the secondary goaltender in Buffalo when Miller makes his final bow.