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Sabres' Levi, Predators' Saros share bond as undersized goalies

Richard T Gagnon / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Devon Levi has been in the NHL for less than a week, but the Buffalo Sabres prospect already has a peer he can look up - or down - to: Nashville Predators netminder Juuse Saros.

At 6-feet, Levi is undersized among goaltenders, making Saros, the shortest goalie in the league at 5-foot-11, the ideal role model.

The two first met in the fall when Levi, then at Northeastern University, was scheduled to play a game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

"I just went up and introduced myself. It was cool," Levi told The Athletic's Matthew Fairburn. "He knew who I was, and he was asking me about my gear, I was asking about his gear. … He's a guy that I've looked up to and watched for a while now."

After their meeting, Saros said he began studying tape of Levi.

"I have high expectations. I think he's going to be a great goalie in this league," Saros said. "Just all of his movements and how he reads the game. He's really precise in everything that he does. He's great technique-wise. He's one of those goalies that I really like to watch. I can learn from him, too."

Despite being a seventh-round pick in 2020, Levi is considered one of the top goalie prospects in the game.

He led Canada to a silver medal at the 2021 World Junior Championship, posting a sparkling .964 save percentage in seven games. The following summer, the Florida Panthers traded him to Buffalo as part of the deal to acquire Sam Reinhart.

Across 66 games in two seasons at Northeastern, Levi sported a .942 save percentage. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the nation's top player in 2022 and is up for the honor again this year.

Saros was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season and owns a career .919 save percentage in his eight seasons. The 27-year-old is remarkably consistent, never posting a save percentage below .914 in any of his full campaigns. His elite quickness is one of the many traits that help him overcome his lack of size.

"He's just unbelievable at doing what he does. He's so consistent. He's like a robot," Levi said. "Every time it's just bang, bang, bang. I like to watch how he moves, how he's always square and just gets hit by the puck, always in position - and he's fast. He has great edge work. I love watching him."

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