SUNRISE — When the Florida Panthers selected Devon Levi in the seventh round of the 2020 NHL Draft, they hoped they would see him in the NHL someday. They did not think it would be this soon, nor that he would be suited up for the Buffalo Sabres.
Yet here we are.
Levi, whom Roberto Luongo lobbied for at the end of that draft in 2020, was part of Florida’s blockbuster deal to acquire Sam Reinhart from Buffalo at the 2021 draft.
Now he is in the NHL.
And all signs point toward Levi facing the Florida Panthers — and Reinhart — tonight in Sunrise.
Got all that?
”It is a big game for them, a big game for us,” said Reinhart when asked if Levi starting made the game hold any more significance to him. “These are the games you want to be a part of it at this time of the year.
“We’re taking it day-by-day and that’s all we can control. Our focus is on that one game, same with them. They have showcased themselves this year. We’re excited for the challenge.”
Levi was a relative unknown junior player when the Panthers drafted him but his career took off as the Team Canada goalie at the World Championships when he lost to fellow Florida prospect Spencer Knight and Team USA in 2021.
In two seasons at Northeastern, Levi won 38 of his starts and was considered a rising star for the Sabres — a concept realized last week when he joined Buffalo and made his NHL debut last Friday night.
Levi made 31 saves in a 3-2 win over the Rangers to help put the Sabres back in this playoff race.
I didn’t come just to play one game,” Levi said per Buffalo Hockey Beat. “I want to play more and I want to be able to give the team a chance to win. So I’ve moved past the game. It was probably one of the best days of my life. I just enjoyed it, soaked it all in. But when it’s over, it’s over. You turn the page.”
As for starting against the Panthers?
“That would be really cool,” he said.
Levi can really get Buffalo going with a win tonight against a Panthers organization he barely got to know.
The Sabres may be four points behind the Panthers in the playoff race but have two games in hand.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
The Panthers will again be without Sergei Bobrovsky and Sam Bennett tonight against the Sabres — full updates on their injury and illness right here — but they will have Alex Lyon.
That’s right, Lyon King Fever has infected the Florida locker room as the team’s former No. 3 goalie is, at least while you read this, the starting netminder for the Florida Panthers.
The Panthers certainly dig him. And he is taking full advantage of this opportunity.
- As many of you know by now, the Panthers do not have many high draft picks coming in upcoming drafts. Yeah, Reinhart did not come to the Panthers just for Levi; he cost them their 2022 first-round pick. But GM Bill Zito has signed a couple of high-profile undrafted free agents to help build up the prospect pool. They hope Western Michigan’s Ryan McAllister becomes the next big thing.
- Zac Dalpe has made a home for himself and his family as captain of the Charlotte Checkers. Now, he has a new two-year contract extension with the Panthers meaning he will be around for a little bit longer.
- Carter Verhaeghe is evolving into a star with the Florida Panthers as he had himself a historical night Saturday in Columbus.
- Check out last night’s 7 Sports Xtra where I talk about where the Panthers are — and where they’re going.
- Video from Paul Maurice, Verhaeghe, Reinhart and Lyon following the win against the Blue Jackets is up on the FHN YouTube Channel.
- You can click the embedded videos below or click RIGHT HERE to see everything all in one place. If you hit subscribe (it’s free), you will know when new content comes up.
NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW
Speaking of goalies, do the Pittsburgh Penguins stick with Casey DeSmith after his terrific start on Sunday?
Dave Molinari writes they need to go back to Tristan Jarry.
- Wayne Gretzky will be “mad” if the Boston Bruins don’t win it all.
- Is Pierre-Luc Dubois headed to his hometown Montreal Canadiens?
- The future of the Detroit Red Wings looks pretty bright. They’re not going to make the playoffs this season, but they are close.
- The Vegas Golden Knights beat the Wild on Monday — and Minnesota earned itself a playoff spot.
- Looks like the LA Kings have themselves a bit of a goalie competition.
PANTHERS ON DECK
BUFFALO SABRES AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida Alternate; ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Season Series (Florida leads 2-1): Panthers 4, Sabres 3 (Oct. 15); Panthers 4, Sabres 1 (Jan. 16); Sabres 3, Panthers 1 (Feb. 24)
- Last season: Florida won 3-0
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 53-45-8, 4 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Ottawa Senators at Florida, Thursday, 7 p.m.