Since Martin Biron’s departure, the Buffalo Sabres have struggled to find that ideal backup goaltender to support franchise star Ryan Miller. The first replacement, Ty Conklin, wasn't with the team for even ¼ of a season and played only three games.
Next up was Jocelyn Thibault, who was about as wildly inconsistent as they came and lasted just one year. Patrick Lalime has also found it difficult to maintain rhythm, posting a 9-26-5 record in three seasons with the Sabres, including 0-5 this season.
But at long last, this 2010-2011 season has given hope in the form of Jhonas Enroth, who is well on his way to becoming a fan favorite in Buffalo.
Enroth was born on June 25th, 1988 in Stockholm, Sweden. His success in hockey came early when, a day before his 18th birthday in 2006, he was drafted in the second round by the Buffalo Sabres as the 46th pick for that year’s NHL Entry Draft.
Although he was the sixth goaltender picked overall, the final scouting reports listed him as the #1 European goaltender, ahead of even future Washington Captitals’ goalies Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth.
A year later, when he was just 19 years old, Enroth answered all kinds of questions with his brilliant play for Södertälje SK in the Elitserien, otherwise known as the Swedish Elite League. He led all goaltenders in the 2007-2008 season in save percentage and goals against average, and was one of four nominees for the Rookie of the Year award.
Just as impressive was his play at the 2008 IIHF World Juniors in the Czech Republic. Enroth carried Team Sweden to a Silver Medal after going 4-1 throughout the tournament with a 2.33 GAA and .905 SV%. His only loss came in the Gold Medal game, where Team Canada won a 3-2 thriller in Overtime.
Enroth’s accomplishments with his Scandinavian homeland carried him to a three-year entry level contract with the Buffalo Sabres. On October 19th, 2008, he debuted with their AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, albeit in a 4-1 loss to the Providence Bruins.
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