How Kevyn Adams is outsmarting the NHL

The Buffalo Sabers may not be a projected playoff team just yet, but general manager Kevyn Adams continues to outsmart the NHL.

I’m going to make a bold statement: Kevyn Adams is turning into one of the best executives in the NHL and the Buffalo Sabers are lucky to have him. This is a guy who put the finishing touches on what many believe to be the league’s best prospect pool.

Adams had his first draft in October 2020, a year where COVID-19 changed just about everything regarding the way all 31 teams at the time approached the draft. Not the easiest task for a new general manager with only five picks, three of which occurred in the later rounds.

Still, Adams found Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka at eighth and 34th overall, respectively. Both figure to be part of the Sabers main roster this season. He drafted Owen Power at number one overall in 2021, and Power will also be a pivotal part of the Sabres. Seventh round pick Tyson Kozak appears to be on his way to earning playing time in the NHL based on his recent performances.

And we haven’t even gotten to 2022 just yet, where 28th overall pick, Jiri Kulich, looks like a steal regarding his early returns. This is just a handful of impressive draft picks during the Kevyn Adams era, and we have yet to get to his other accomplishments thus far as the Buffalo Sabers general manager.

Kevyn Adams is building the Buffalo Sabers into a contender

Some in NHL spheres have laughed at Kevyn Adams re-signing center Tage Thompson to a seven-year extension following just one good season. Too bad Adams fully explained his reasoning for re-signing Tage, citing adversity and the ability to overcome it as major factors. You can listen to the full explanation in the video below.

While the jury remains out on the Thompson deal, Adams is looking like a sheer genius regarding his three trades over the last 15 months that involved Rasmus Ristolainen, Sam Reinhart, and Jack Eichel. Once again, the media heavily criticized the Jack Eichel Trade, claiming the Vegas Golden Knights won it handily.

Too bad the Knights have been a mess since Eichel skated onto the ice. Meanwhile, Alex Tuch could become a captain, most likely an assistant captain, this season, while Peyton Krebs went from AHL regular to NHL regular. The trade also nested Noah Ostlund, who has been tearing it up with his Swedish club, Djurgardens.

The Ristolainen trade brought in the 14th overall pick in Isak Rosen while the Reinhart trade let Adams acquire a first round pick that turned out to be Jiri Kulich, plus a potential franchise goaltender in Devon Levi, the latter of whom many regard as one of the best in the NCAA.

Adams built the prospect pool with a counterintuitive edge

Thanks to Adams’ solid drafting and trading, he built what might be the league’s best prospect pool. And he is avoiding the mistakes people like his predecessor, Jason Botterill, made. Botterill tried to rush the process instead of trusting the process, and did something then that is eerily similar to what the Detroit Red Wings did this past offseason.

It’s why the Sabes, at least in the long-term, will be better than Detroit. Adams is taking the slow, steady process. He’s letting prospects develop and he’s signing low-cost free agents to keep as stopgaps until those prospects are ready for the NHL level.

He’s also extending his own talent, another genius move because the current talent already has built-in chemistry. It’s why extending Tage was a smarter move than trading for Matthew Tkachuk, who ultimately went to the Buffalo Sabers Atlantic Division rival, the Florida Panthers.

Expect to see more extensions in the near-future regarding players like Rasmus Dahlin, Dylan Cozens, Mattias Samuelsson, Peyton Krebs, etc. Adams, who recently received an extension himself, has the Sabers on the right path. And he has done so through conventional and unconventional methods.

The end product? A phenomenal prospect pool and young talent all over the roster. He also set up the Sabers salary cap to keep that young talent for the long haul. And the result will be a Stanley Cup. Maybe not this season or even next season. As for 2024-25? That may just be the first of many seasons where the Sabers will evolve into one of the most talented teams in the league, thanks to the genius of Kevyn Adams.

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