This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
1. Dominik Hasek (1449)
2. Pat LaFontaine (549)
3. Gilbert Perrault (528)
Although he is no longer a member of the squad, Ryan Miller provided the Sabres with superb goaltending for years. Before his era though, the Sabres had an even better goalie playing between the pipes. That’s not a knock on Miller, but few netminders in the history of the game can compare to Hasek.
The Chicago Blackhawks took him in the 10th round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, but he didn’t make the transition to North America until 1990. By the end of the 1991-92 campaign, Hasek was 27 years old and had only played in 25 NHL games. Chicago already had Ed Belfour so they sent Hasek to Buffalo in exchange for Stephane Beauregard and a fourth round draft pick (which became Eric Daze).
It was in Buffalo that Hasek made a name for himself as he led the league in save percentage an incredible six straight seasons from 1993-94 through 1998-99. He won the Vezina Trophy in five of those six campaigns and claimed it again in his final season with Buffalo (2000-01).
Although he was never able to win the Stanley Cup with the Sabres, he gave it his all, posting a 1.77 GAA and .939 save percentage in 19 games in Buffalo’s 1999 trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Sabres later traded him to the Red Wings and he went on to win two championships with them while staying competitive well into his 40s, but there’s no question that he was at his peak during his tenure with Buffalo. He earned the nickname The Dominator, which is appropriate because no goalie could match him while he wore a Sabres’ jersey.