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General Manager (13/19)



  1. Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images The Sabres open their preseason in DC this afternoon. The Buffalo Sabres kick off their preseason schedule on Sunday afternoon, visiting the Washington Capitals. It’s the first of six preseason games for the Sabres, so we can expect to see plenty of variety in the lineup and likely some interesting line combos/defensive pairings to try out some different things. Here’s everything you need to know about today’s game. Buffalo Sabres vs. Washington Capitals Sunday, September 25 Puck drop: 2:00 p.m. EST How to Watch: If you’re lucky enough to subscribe to NHL Network, you’ll be able to catch this afternoon’s game with the NBC Sports Washington feed. That is, if you’re not already watching that other Buffalo pro sports team playing today.... You can also listen to the game on WWKB 1520 AM (WGR550 will have the Bills game.) Projected Sabres Roster: Today's game group ⬇️#LetsGoBuffalo — Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) September 25, 2022 Projected Capitals Roster: Forwards: Alexander Suzdalev, Connor McMichael, Nic Dowd, Hendrix Lapierre, Anthony Mantha, Garrett Pilon, Beck Malenstyn, Brett Leason, Aliaksei Protas, Haakon Hanelt, Conor Sheary, Ryan Hofer, Joe Snively Defense: Nick Jensen, Gabriel Carlson, Vincent Iorio, Martin Fehervary, Dru Krebs (Peyton’s younger brother), Erik Gustafson, Martin Has Goalies: Hunter Shepard, Zach Fucale View the full article
  2. Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images The NHL’s preseason began on Saturday. Buffalo Sabres Links Cozens built confidence at Worlds with goal-scoring mentality [Sabres.com] Eric Comrie and Craig Anderson kicking off process to form a tandem in Sabres’ net [The Buffalo News] Carrying ‘quiet swagger,’ Rasmus Dahlin growing in role as Sabres leader [The Buffalo News] The Sabres prepared for their first preseason tilt with an intrasquad scrimmage. Check out the video highlights, courtesy of the team, below: Alright, I’m cheating a little here because this isn’t Sabres-related, but chances are decent that if you’re reading this, you may also be a Buffalo Bills fan. Per his agent, Bills safety Micah Hyde will miss the rest of the NFL season with a neck injury. Buffalonians, known for their charity, have already donated upwards of $20,000 to Hyde’s charity, Imagine for Youth, which “helps young scholars and athletes perform their best, inside and outside the classroom.” If you’re interested in donating, here’s the link. NHL/Hockey Links NHL preseason action began on Saturday with four games, including a double-header between split-squads of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. There are 10 games on the schedule for Sunday, including this afternoon’s match-up between the Sabres and Washington Capitals. Which NHL players could be traded in 2022-23? Picking one from all 32 teams [The Athletic] Jeff Gorton believes Canadiens will surprise people this season [Montreal Gazette] One prospect to watch from all 32 NHL teams in 2022-23 [Daily Faceoff] Veteran Jets forward Sam Gagner keeps adapting to survive in the NHL [Winnipeg Sun] Mom got him skating lessons to keep him off the streets. Now he’s an NHL coach. [Washington Post] UAA hockey team thrilled to be back after 30-month pause [Anchorage Daily News] In Case You Missed It 20 Questions with the Buffalo Sabres View the full article
  3. Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images The Sabres future looks bright, indeed. In case you missed it in The Athletic recently, Corey Pronman did an in-depth ranking of 170 players in the NHL under the age of 23 and there were a number of highly-rated Buffalo Sabres on his list. Click the link to go read more about it ($), but Pronman saved us all the suspense by starting off with the number 1 and has also divided up the players among tiers which gives us some good perspective on where he sees certain prominent players. With due respect to The Athletic, I’ve captured the highlights on eleven Sabres here. His #1 is Jack Hughes from the New Jersey Devils and no players from Buffalo are in the top five that make up his 1) Bubble elite NHL player and NHL All-Star category. Also, here’s the criteria Pronman used - A player must be 22 years old or younger as of Sept. 15, 2022, to qualify. This list is my opinion of who I think will become the core NHL players from those draft classes. Ranked players are placed into tiers and given tool grades, based on a scale with six separate levels, with an eye toward how this attribute would grade in the NHL (poor, below-average, average, above-average, high-end and elite). “Average” on this scale means the tool projects as NHL average, which is meant as a positive, not a criticism. Skating, puck skills, hockey sense and compete for every projected NHL player is graded. Shot grades are only included if a shot is notably good or poor. Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images Rasmus Dahlin 2) NHL All-Star 7. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buffalo - 22 years old | 6-foot-3 | 193 pounds | Shoots left Drafted: No. 1 in 2018 Skating: NHL average Puck skills: Above NHL average Hockey sense: Above NHL average Compete: Below NHL average Analysis: Four years into Rasmus Dahlin’s NHL career, I think everyone’s eyes are starting to become wide open to what he is and isn’t. He’s an offensive dynamo. There are few defensemen with his frame who can handle the puck like him and make the kind of unique offensive plays he can. His brain operates at a high level of creativity and vision. Dahlin was much more confident using his skill to attack this season. He’s a good skater with good reach, but Dahlin’s not a strong defender due to a lack of physicality and doesn’t look like a player you’ll be projecting to take tough minutes. Even with that in mind, he looks like a long-time impactful NHL defenseman who will often be atop the scoring leaders for his position. 3) Bubble NHL All-Star and top-of-the-lineup player 13. Dylan Cozens, C, Buffalo - 21 years old | 6-foot-3 | 183 pounds | Shoots right Drafted: No. 7 in 2019 Skating: NHL average Puck skills: NHL average Hockey sense: NHL average Compete: Above NHL average Shot: Above NHL average Analysis: It’s easy to like Dylan Cozens’ game. Even though he didn’t have a huge NHL season, he was only 20 years old, and the Cozens you saw at the World Championships where he was one of the best players I think is the real Cozens. He checks every box you look for in an NHL player. Big centers who can skate, make plays, and score goals are rare. You add his strong compete level and someone who wants to be a complete center and I think you have all the ingredients of a future impactful center. 20. Owen Power, D, Buffalo - 19 years old | 6-foot-6 | 214 pounds | Shoots left Drafted: No. 1 in 2021 Skating: NHL average Puck skills: NHL average Hockey sense: Above NHL average Compete: NHL average Analysis: Power didn’t pop off in his second college season as I thought he may do, but he was still one of the best defensemen in the NCAA. His best hockey was probably in the cancelled world juniors where he took over games. Power isn’t a player that will land on a lot of highlight reels, but as a huge, mobile defenseman with puck-moving skill, it’s easy to imagine him playing high in an NHL lineup for a long time. He’s not the most physical defender, but with his reach and feet he’ll make plenty of stops with strong offense. He projects as a legit top-of-the-lineup defenseman with some star potential. Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images Owen Power (in the background) with Dylan Cozens 4) Top of the lineup player or top-tier starting goaltender 39. Jack Quinn, RW, Buffalo - 20 years old | 6 feet | 176 pounds | Shoots right Drafted: No. 8 in 2020 Skating: Below NHL average Puck skills: Above NHL average Hockey sense: NHL average Compete: NHL average Shot: Above NHL average Analysis: Quinn had a monster AHL season, scoring 61 points in 45 games and being named AHL rookie of the year as a result. He’s very dangerous with the puck on his stick. He has loose, quick hands and can beat defenders one-on-one at a high frequency. He’s a creative playmaker who can also finish chances and do so from range. Quinn’s feet have never been his selling point, but he’s so skilled and such a good scorer I think he can become a true top-line winger. 42. Peyton Krebs, LW, Buffalo - 21 years old | 5-foot-11 | 180 pounds | Shoots left Acquired in Eichel trade Skating: NHL average Puck skills: NHL average Hockey sense: Above NHL average Compete: Above NHL average Shot: Below NHL average Analysis: Krebs had a solid first full pro season, and his best NHL stretches were in Buffalo after he was a key part of the Jack Eichel trade. He’s a well-rounded hockey player, who can play multiple positions effectively and play at both ends of the rink. Krebs has NHL speed and skill, but it’s his playmaking and effort that define his game. It’s why despite his size he has a very good chance to be a top-six center in the NHL. You’d like to see him score a few more goals, but even without that I think he can be a high-quality forward whether at wing or center. Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Jack Quinn was AHL Rookie of the Year last season 5) Bubble top and middle of the lineup player or quality starting goaltender 64. Matthew Savoie, C/RW, Buffalo - 18 years old | 5-foot-9 | 175 pounds | Shoots right Drafted: No. 9 in 2022 Skating: Above NHL average Puck skills: NHL average Hockey sense: Above NHL average Compete: Above NHL average Shot: Above NHL average Analysis: Savoie is a very talented scorer. He stands out with the puck on his stick and can attack in a variety of ways. Savoie is an excellent passer, who can run a power play, hit seams at a high rate and make tough plays under duress. He has very good hands to maneuver in traffic. He has good speed to beat opponents wide and he has a shot that can score from range. Savoie lacks ideal NHL size, but he competes hard and wins a surprising amount of battles for his size. He doesn’t have incredible speed and skill for a 5-foot-9 player so he may be moved to the wing in the NHL, but regardless I see him as a very good top-six forward. 68. John-Jason Peterka, LW, Buffalo - 20 years old | 5-foot-11 | 192 pounds | Shoots left Drafted: No. 34 in 2020 Skating: NHL average Puck skills: NHL average Hockey sense: NHL average Compete: NHL average Shot: Above NHL average Analysis: Peterka had an excellent season, scoring at a point per game as a teenager in the AHL. He has great skill and can shoot the puck, but it’s how he plays with pace and makes skilled plays at fast speeds that has been why he’s been so successful as a pro. Peterka is a highly-creative passer as well, makes a consistent effort on the ice, and overall has everything you look for in a top-six forward, other than his frame. Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images Jiri Kulich after being selected 28th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft 6) Middle of the lineup player or starting goaltender 89. Jiri Kulich, C/LW, Buffalo - 18 years old | 5-foot-11 | 178 pounds | Shoots left Drafted: No. 28 in 2022 Skating: NHL average Puck skills: NHL average Hockey sense: NHL average Compete: Above NHL average Shot: Above NHL average Analysis: Kulich is a well-rounded prospect. He has a fluid, powerful skating stride that can generate clean entries and beat defenders wide. He has slick one-on-one skills and combined with his speed is a threat off the rush. He can make plays but is more of a threat when he’s in motion than picking apart defenses as a playmaker. Kulich has a great shot, showing a one-timer and wrist shot threat from range. Kulich doesn’t show fear from attacking the net or taking a hit to make a play. He projects as a top-six forward whether at wing or center, but likely on the wing. 113. Devon Levi, G, Buffalo - 20 years old | 6 feet | 183 pounds | Catches left Acquired in Reinhart trade Skating: Above NHL average Hockey sense: Above NHL average Analysis: Levi had a huge season at Northeastern, posting a .952 SV% in 32 games. Levi’s stock has shot up after being a seventh-round pick in 2020. He’s a very intelligent goaltender who tracks the play like a pro and rarely seems out of position. I’ve been more impressed by his athleticism and ability to make tough saves as time has gone on. Levi is very quick in net, challenges when needed and can make a lot of tough saves. His size is and will continue to be an issue as he advances levels, but he rarely lets in soft goals, has good controlled aggression and is super smart so I think he figured it out even at his size and helps an NHL team win games. 155. Noah Ostlund, C, Buffalo - 18 years old | 5-foot-10 | 164 pounds | Shoots left Drafted: No. 16 in 2022 Skating: NHL average Puck skills: Above NHL average Hockey sense: NHL average Compete: NHL average Shot: Below NHL average Analysis: Ostlund possesses impressive speed and skill. He’s able to be an asset in transition due to his ability to create controlled entries and make defenders miss. He has a pass-first mentality but can make difficult plays at a high rate. Ostlund has the poise to run a power-play unit and find seams but he’s not much of a shot threat. Ostlund isn’t the biggest, but he works hard enough and has shown as a junior he can be reliable defensively. He looks like a potential third-line center in the NHL. 162. Ryan Johnson, D, Buffalo - 20 years old | 6 feet | 170 pounds | Shoots left Drafted: No. 31 in 2019 Skating: Above NHL average Puck skills: Below NHL average Hockey sense: NHL average Compete: NHL average Analysis: Johnson didn’t take a step forward as a junior last season, but he is what he is. He’s a steady two-way defenseman that lacks an offensive flash. Due to his excellent skating ability, I still rate him highly, even if some scouts around the league are starting to get lukewarm on him. His offensive ability will never excite, but I see first-pass offense as a pro to go with the excellent transitional ability and good enough defense to be a fourth or fifth defenseman. Please do go check out the original Pronman article in The Athletic, as well are all their other exceptional NHL and Buffalo Sabres coverage. View the full article
  4. Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images What you’ve missed around the hockey world. Buffalo Sabres Links NHL Burning Questions: Buffalo Sabres [The Hockey News] ‘22-23 Atlantic Preview: The teams to keep at bay [Stanley Cup of Chowder] Sabres need Tuch to lead the way [The Hockey Writers] If you need a good laugh, check out this video: Who knew toy lizards could be so scary? pic.twitter.com/Xv4ypuFYKp — Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) September 23, 2022 NHL/Hockey Links Fantasy Hockey 2022-23: NHL players primed for breakout seasons [Yahoo] Bold predictions for all 32 NHL teams [ESPN] Team previews at The Athletic ($) Ranking the NHL’s Top 10 Goalies [CBS Sports] From Marlton to the World Stage, Ball Hockey is Taking Hold [The Hockey News] NHL Teams Set Up For a Disastrous Start to the 2022 Season [Bleacher Report] In Case You Missed It Upcoming Sabres Season Reasons for Optimism View the full article
  5. Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/NHLI via Getty Images 2022 first-round draft pick comes with high praise, skill. The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of staff writers and over 600 readers that ranked Buffalo Sabres players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player. It should come as absolutely no surprise that 2022 first-round draft pick Matt Savoie cracks the top ten in his first year on this list. From what we’ve seen so far, he is a promising young prospect coming off a very strong year in juniors. While he’s likely to spend another year in the Western Hockey League, he could get a few games at the NHL level before he returns. Last season, Savoie led all WHL rookies with 90 points in just 65 games. He was also among the top players in the league as a whole, finishing seventh in scoring, while playing mostly as a center. He did see some time on the wing in the second half of the season, so there’s some debate as to which position he’ll land in when he does reach the NHL. Savoie didn’t skate at the Sabres’ development camp earlier this summer, as he was recovering from and rehabbing after shoulder surgery. For the same reason, he didn’t workout at the NHL Combine before the Draft, either. That said, it was a treat for Sabres fans to finally see him hit the ice in blue & gold last week at the Prospects Challenge - and he looked the part. Matt Savoie gives the Sabres a 4-3 lead. Nice one-timer off the pass from Kisakov. pic.twitter.com/ZrbyTxEHbn — The Charging Buffalo (@TheChargingBUF) September 19, 2022 Savoie is poised to dominate in his second full season in the WHL, so Sabres fans would be wise to pay a little more attention to the Winnipeg Ice once he makes his way back there. View the full article
  6. Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images Latest episode takes a behind-the-scenes look at Kevyn Adams’ relationship with players. Buffalo Sabres training camp has begun. Prospect tournaments the whole league round are concluding as players return to town for a mercifully-speedy preseason schedule. The organization here in Buffalo dropped a contract renewal for General Manager Kevyn Adams the day before camp began. And so, with ideal timing, the newest episode of Sabres Embedded was posted the same week to display the hard work of said GM. Once again, I will be going over this nifty nine-minute feature on the free agency moves the team made in the offseason and all the subtle choices the video made. This episode, Behind the Scenes of NHL Free Agency 2022, seems to not have a lot of source material. After 2021 we were bound to have a less eventful offseason this go around. Indeed there were few fully-NHL oriented moves, at least few that were christened (looking at you, Matt Murray), but this video makes a lot with a little. It truly showed us some team dynamics we might not have otherwise known just by showing us the normal wheeling and dealing of Kevyn Adams we have come to expect. It feels unnecessary to recap this video beat for beat. It is exclusively a Front Office affair with zero player fanfare interspersed. Yes, I passed on a summary of the summertime Embedded episode on Jeff Skinner’s first pitch at a Buffalo Bisons game for the opposite reason. There is some cute player stuff in that similarly brief video, but it didn’t seem worth wasting your time reviewing it here. I like the meat and potatoes stuff: when these closely-manicured team productions actually give us fans something interesting to chew on. The kind of stuff that really says something about the direction of the team. In that regard, there are two moments that stick out in this feature. I am a true sucker for drama, so I am going to save the more interesting piece for second. First up is a call Kevyn Adams makes to Kyle Okposo. The call came after the seven minute mark of the video, after all of the major moves had been made. This is a classic closed-door phone conversation Adams has with Okposo. He tells Okposo he has only a minute before an agent call and informs him he has sealed the deal with both Eric Comrie and Ilya Lyubushkin, the team’s targets of this free agency, according to Adams. Comrie had made acquaintance with Okposo in the past as it were. Adams encouraged Okposo to give him a welcome call. This conversation is followed by Adams’ directly discussing his special relationship with Okposo over past footage. This may seem like an innocuous exchange to the uninitiated viewer, but in context it really clarifies what Adams would say just this week at the opening of Training Camp. The team will be naming a new captain and leadership group before the start of the season. This was not a sure thing. Ever since he-who-shall-not-be-named was stripped of the captaincy in 2021, it seemed like leadership would be done piecemeal, never mind finding a new person to wear the C. This year speculation has ramped up that certain players were showing what the front office might be looking for in the part, including some speculation from yours truly. While I listed Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo as likely candidates because they wore A’s last season, I underestimated how important the experience piece would be to the front office. Between the vote of confidence this video gives to Okposo and just how frequently he has featured in Sabres marketing, it seems clear that the C will be given to him before the home opener October 13th. One brief subpoint I will mention before getting to the juicy tenderloin of this episode of Embedded is how it came right out of the beginning title card with Adams asking an analytics question to Sam Ventura, the Sabres VP of Hockey Strategy and Research. In other words, he’s the lead voice in the organization on advanced statistics. Ventura is asked his read on why Eric Comrie is worth it for the team in net. Ventura, to his credit, gives a very analytical answer relating to the goalie’s AHL numbers and how they normally point to a player who makes the jump to starter in the NHL. Adams then recites his reasoning for valuing the way Ventura communicates himself and the importance of the data he’s sharing. Since the last front office regime change in this organization in the summer of 2020, there has been a clear effort to surround the first-time GM with smart voices including those like Ventura on advanced stats. The most vocal fans, particularly younger fans who go as far as to write blogs and start podcasts, had been hoping for such insights to be brought in after the relative chaos of the last two regimes on the topic. It takes a certain kind of perspective to keep an analytical blackhole like Rasmus Ristolainen on the roster as long as they did. While many team-produced videos like Embedded choose to dive into a more exciting topic off the hop the choice to go right into the advanced stats angle right away seems like a clear overture the team wants to appear like it’s listening. Finally we arrive at the Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen call. After recounting the jubilant acquisition of Eric Comrie we arrive at the midpoint of the episode with Kevyn Adams once again disappearing behind an office door to talk to UPL over the phone. He restates the organization’s commitment to the Finnish goalie after informing him of the Comrie move. It’s clear Adams is trying to get ahead of the story for UPL to make sure he is not dispirited by the move as he affirms the importance of the goalie playing games in the coming season. It’s safe to assume UPL was expecting to take over the Sabres net or at least have the lion’s share of starts when the aged Craig Anderson was brought back as his only competition. UPL was recently signed to a two year prove-it contract in the offseason with a very flexible second year if you know what I mean; when this move was made, UPL had not yet received that contract. What happens next is very interesting. Adams smirks when he exits the office. I am no expert in body language but then he told Head Coach Don Granato to give UPL a call as well. Adams tells Granato UPL stated his trust for the front office decision making. As soon as you the viewer begin to start contemplating what just happened there the episode quickly transitions to talk of Victor Olofsson. Again we can consider some further context as to why this call was included like this. Rumor has been, for approaching a year, that the organization does not have the trust in UPL’s potential as it once did. While the rift between organization and player couldn’t be separated from the mere noise of media and fan annoyance at the goalie’s frequent injury problems, it’s safe to say this approaching season will be UPL’s final test in the organization. With the Comrie signing UPL is now in the position where he needs to take the net for himself or start packing his things for wherever his next NHL franchise is located. This is a competition for the net and the 27-year-old Eric Comrie has merely 28 NHL games to his name. That’s 15 more than UPL’s 13, who is only 23 years old. While Adams’ niceties say otherwise, the front office is hoping the goaltending position might benefit from seeing whose hungrier for a breakthrough NHL season. This will be an interesting subplot to watch this season. As many fans have reset their progress expectations of the Sabres for the third time in a decade there has clearly been one major thing missing all the while. Since Ryan Miller was shipped out in 2014 there has been no clear franchise goaltender. In an alternate universe somewhere things went different for Robin Lehner and he’s the guy, but in this universe it was the biggest question going into the offseason. Many of us said we couldn’t seriously see the Sabres competing in the division in any meaningful way without an upgrade in net. The Comrie signing would have been underwhelming in that regard if it weren’t for the competition it might inspire in UPL. If those two are both trying to out-goaltend each other in net there might just be enough here to at least hold our own in this improving division if not sneak into a wildcard spot if business elsewhere breaks a certain way. Expectations aside the deliberate inclusion of this particular part of the episode could be the first hint of justification for the organization moving on from UPL in the 2023-2024 season, if not sooner, if he can’t prove himself at all. The Sabres did draft UPL in 2017 when one Jason Botterill had just recently been named general manager. Kevyn Adams has no loyalty to a pick he didn’t make but suffice to say Luukkonen was viewed as the future of the Sabres net from his drafting until at least the first COVID-shortened season. Injury has not been good to him, but such a move would pave the way for Erik Portillo or Devon Levi, prospects a few years off still, to find themselves burdened with the title of the future franchise goalie. Altogether this episode of Embedded flies by. Me not going into any depth with the Ilya Lyubushkin move is no slight against him, it was just briefly discussed in the video. As with all these team produced videos it’s a picture of what the front office wants you to think about the team. The club’s six preseason games over the next fifteen days will give us a fleeting image of what to actually expect for a club eleven seasons without a playoff appearance. While that fact may hang over Sabres fans, it’s hard to imagine the Pegula Sports and Entertainment goals of this production weren’t acutely aware the football team is a Super Bowl favorite. Perhaps my biggest surprise in this video was simply not seeing the tiniest piece of Buffalo Bills merchandise to remind us where the money printer is. View the full article
  7. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images NHL teams have finally hit the ice once again. Buffalo Sabres Links 12 things we learned from Day 1 of Sabres camp [Sabres.com] Sabres begin training camp with high expectations, full roster and stability [Buffalo Hockey Beat] Noah Ostlund does hockey’s hardest thing. He makes it look easy. [The Athletic] ($) Carrying ‘quiet swagger,’ Rasmus Dahlin growing in role as Sabres leader [The Buffalo News] The Sabres dropped a new episode of “Embedded” Wednesday night. Check it out: NHL/Hockey Links Ryan Ellis’ career might be over [Broad Street Hockey] Czech government tells NHL that Russian players unwanted in Prague [AP] The 10 best moments from Media Days across the NHL [RMNB] Q&A with Bill Daly [The Athletic] ($) Former NHL goalie Darling finds new career in stand-up comedy [NHL.com] Inside Wild star Kirill Kaprizov’s harrowing offseason journey back from Russia to the U.S. [The Athletic] ($) In Case You Missed It Kevyn Adams spoke on Thursday morning ahead of the first on-ice training camp sessions. View the full article
  8. The Sabres GM has been talking in his first press conference after signing a multi-year extension The Buffalo Sabres announced yesterday afternoon that they had extended the contract of General Manager Kevyn Adams. No numbers were mentioned in the official press release with the rookie GM entering his third year in the job. Adams was just the latest to take on the poisoned chalice that is the Sabres GM role, but so far has done an admirable job in navigating what has been an extremely difficult task with an injured and disgruntled superstar, other key pieces that didn’t want to be here, an extremely young and inexperienced core, an ownership that has been loath at times to spend, an extremely engaged but ultimately frustrated fanbase that has been restless after eleven years without playoff hockey, and a number of other issues that have combined to create this perfect maelstrom. The 47-year-old has been with the organization since 2009 now when he joined as a player development coach, before becoming an assistant coach between 2011-13. He then moved on to the Academy of Hockey program while also serving as president of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, before becoming the general manager of LECOM Harborcenter in January 2019. He was then named vice president of business administration in 2019, before being named general manager ahead of the 2020-21 season. In his comments about the extension, owner Terry Pegula said - “Kevyn’s leadership and vision over the past two seasons has proven to be invaluable, and I am confident in his ability to continue to move us forward as an organization. He is respected by players, coaches, staff, and peers around the league alike due to the poise with which he carries himself and the respect he reciprocates to every individual he encounters. He has grown in different roles throughout the organization, providing him unique perspectives that help him perform at the highest level as general manager. “I, along with the fans and community, am happy to see Kevyn continue to build a winning culture both on and off the ice. Additionally, I am appreciative of his communication skills and dedication to the entire organization. I am thrilled to extend Kevyn’s contract and have him lead the Buffalo Sabres for several years to come.” We are live with GM Kevyn Adams following his contract extension, and at the beginning of 2022 Training Camp. https://t.co/A1xF8FFXDk — Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) September 22, 2022 This morning Adams addressed the media in his first press conference after the extension was announced. Here are a selection of quotes from the GM, I’ll leave you to watch the full video above. “It’s an amazing feeling for me and my family. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity I have every day, and of the Pegulas for believing in me and giving me this opportunity, and for what they do, they want to see us have success.” On the task that lies ahead for the team - “We have a long way to go, we have to earn everything. This time last year we talked a lot about having to earn the respect throughout the locker room and the staff, the fans, the media, and our guys took that to heart and took big steps last year. “We are nowhere near where we need to be and want to be, and we’re going to push every day to get there. We need to figure ways to get better, figure out ways to help the coaches, help the players.” On the subject of injuries to the squad and if he had made any changes during the summer - “This was the first offseason for me where I had a little more time. The first few years every day felt almost like surviving, but this [injuries] were a priority. What we did in the offseason was to sit down and really look at our injuries last season, the what, why and how. “I talked to our doctors a lot, they’re the experts, what was their take on it? Then I had individual meetings with everyone in the sports performance department. What was going to be our process for getting players back and healthy? “What we’ve worked on is being more process-oriented, and communicating better at all levels, everybody being part of that process. This isn’t finger-pointing, it’s my job to asky why and I feel very confident now.” On the topic of who will be the Sabres captain this season - “We’ll have a captain this year. We’ve talked a lot about it and it’s something we’ll still spend a little bit of time on over the next week or two. We’ll have our leadership group before the start of the regular season. “It’s great to have a captain and an assistant captain, but it’s also great to have leaders in our locker room that don’t have an ‘A’. Aside from the veterans, I look at some of our younger players like a Samuelsson, Cozens, and Krebs, these guys have been captains growing up in different teams. “We want to create an environment and a culture where guys can come in and be themselves every day. Whether it’s a rookie or a veteran, they get to be who they are. When you do that, you’re giving players the chance to be the best version of themselves.” We’ll be updating this post with more quotes. View the full article
  9. Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images What’s new around the hockey world? As NHL training camps open this week, I thought it would be appropriate to bring back these regular (ideally, daily) link posts here at Die by the Blade. These posts are intended to provide a snapshot of what’s happening around the hockey world, including across the NHL, and share other Buffalo Sabres-centric pieces you may have missed. As a writer, I always enjoy reading other people’s work. Everyone comes into the sport with a different perspective, and no two stories will ever really be the same. As things start to kick up with training camp and preseason, there will undoubtedly be a lot going on around the league, so let these posts serve as a catch-all, a round-up and a forum for discussion. Without further ado... let the season (and fun!) commence. Sabres Links Sabres extend GM Kevyn Adams to ‘multiyear’ extension [Sabres.com] Buffalo Sabres season preview [The Athletic] ($) Alex Tuch motivated to ‘prove himself’ [The Buffalo News] The Owen Power era arrives in Buffalo [ESPN] Kohen Olischefski “at home” in Sabres organization [Amerks.com] Jim Nill announced that after further review, the NHL asked for Ben Bishop to not assume his front office role with the Stars until his contract with Buffalo (LTIR) runs out. Bishop will not be around the team for the time being. — Saad Yousuf (@SaadYousuf126) September 21, 2022 NHL/Hockey Links Lingering questions for all 32 NHL teams [ESPN] NHL Rookie Camp standouts [The Athletic] ($) Keith Yandle retires as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers [Broad Street Hockey] NHL Fans’ Dos and Don’ts for the Preseason [Bleacher Report] Dear P.K.: Thanks for the Memories [Habs Eyes on the Prize] How Nathan MacKinnon’s new contract stacks up with NHL’s elite [Yahoo] Zdeno Chara changed everything [Stanley Cup of Chowder] In Case You Missed It Thoughts from the Prospects Challenge View the full article
  10. Photo by Ben Green/NHLI via Getty Images Maybe This Year Will be Different In 2006, around the time the Buffalo Sabres were a regular playoff contending team, a Chicago Cubs documentary came out called Wait ‘Til Next Year. The movie chronicled the saga of a perennial losing Major League Baseball franchise. Every opening day each season, the team’s long-suffering loyal fans dutifully trooped out to Wrigley Field, said to themselves “this could be the year” and were inevitably disappointed. Eventually, however, the team turned things around. The Cubs finally won a World Series in 2016, which ended a 71-year National League pennant drought and an 108-year World Series drought, the longest in MLB history. Of course, the Sabres have never won a Stanley Cup. Buffalo has also endured the longest playoff drought in NHL history. I’m not saying that this is the year the franchise will finally end that streak. If I could accurately predict the future, I’d be in another line of work. But there are hopeful signs that maybe 2022-23 will be different from seasons past. Here are some of those: 1) The Sabres are Building a Strong Depth The Sabres have been in a rebuilding mode for what seems like eternity. In recent years, the team’s front office has been making more smart moves as opposed to dumb decisions. The Eichel trade for Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs turned out to be a better deal for Buffalo, something that many fans and pundits at first thought was advantage Vegas. Drafting solid talents such as Owen Power and finally getting production out of versatile players like Rasmus Dahlin, is starting to have an impact. Even deals that looked lopsided in other teams’ favors, especially trading Ryan O’Reilly to St. Louis for Tage Thompson, haven’t seemed so foolish in hindsight. 2) One Buffalo Connection is Influencing the Hockey Team It’s rare for any professional sports owners to own two franchises in one city. Many fans have had issues with how Terry and Kim Pegula operate both the Sabres and the Buffalo Bills. Critics feel the power couple shouldn’t control Western New York’s pro sports landscape. Despite this, the two teams experience a lot of crossover. Bills players go to Sabres games and Sabres players follow the Bills. The two major sports teams’ collaboration isn’t limited to the guys in the jerseys. Sabres General Manager Kevyn Adams even developed close ties with Bills GM Brandon Beane. “Brandon and I have become good friends” Adams told David De Cristofaro of USA Today back in February. “We talk a lot. We bounce ideas off each other…it’s an incredible resource to have someone that’s had so much success in a lot of different ways in the things that he’s done and just pick his brain.” Taking advice from a GM who helped end a 17-year playoff drought, is bound to influence the way Adams makes decisions. Under Beane’s watch, the Bills went from an NFL laughingstock to Super Bowl contenders. It’s only matter of time before the Sabres turn their losing ways around, too. 3) Sabres Players are Excited to Be Back on the Ice For a long time, many Sabres players just skated across the rink during games, going through the motions and letting their opponents dictate plays. Now the team is filled with players who want to compete, want to win and want to play here. Recently, Alex Tuch gave an interview to Buffalo News reporter Lance Lysowski. After talking about how his summer was, Tuch described what happened when he called fellow Sabres forward Tage Thompson. Tuch pointed out good things that happened for Thompson, most notably his son’s birth and Buffalo giving him a new $50 million contract. “But after I was done congratulating him, he was like, ‘I’m so excited to be back.’ And you could see the smile on his face and the excitement. Everyone’s excited to get started.” With that kind of attitude, in marked contrast to players’ muted feelings in past seasons, maybe the guys on the roster will translate that enthusiasm into wins. After all, it’s a lot easier to win when you want to play than when you don’t. 4) New Prospects are Promising The Sabres’ new prospects showed off their skills at the annual Prospects Challenge at HarborCenter recently. Tyson Kozak, Matt Savoie, Linus Weissbach and Filip Cedarqvist all strutted their stuff against the Montreal Canadiens’ prospects on the ice. Over several days and during three games, the young Buffalo players outscored the Habs’ budding talents 17-10 and won all three contests. Jiri Kulich and Mats Lindgren were two other new talents that shined during the Challenge. All of the players mentioned and others that competed are potential future Buffalo Sabres. Not all of them will commit to Buffalo and some may not have a guaranteed NHL career. Many of these guys will, though and they can only add to the team’s depth and skill going forward. The Buffalo Sabres have made some positive changes in recent years. From better trades and drafts, to improved player morale, managers learning from other sports successes and potential talent in the pipeline, this season looks more hopeful than it has in a while. Nothing’s guaranteed, but this might be the year fans can finally look forward to and not one they’ll prefer to forget once April comes around. View the full article
  11. Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Swedish center just misses top 10, but still shows plenty of potential The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of staff writers and over 600 readers that ranked Buffalo Sabres players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player. While his numbers have not added up to anything overly impressive during his first few seasons in the NHL, Rasmus Asplund is the more subtly poignant player you want on your team. Though it is not as often as some Sabres fans would like, he can score and is, quite simply, fun to watch. Are his 27 points from last season anything to write home about? No, but he is not going to be a Tage Thompson or Jeff Skinner, which is totally fine. The advantage he has over those two and many other forwards on the team is defensive play. This is especially evident when playing with linemates like Casey Mittelstadt who just doesn’t have that defensive edge in him (let alone the ability to stay healthy, but I digress). Coincidentally, Asplund beat Mitts in this ranking by one spot. At 24 years old, the lefthanded drafted-center-but-often-a-winger only just had his first full season this past year thanks to previous seasons being negatively impacted by COVID and other obstacles. Head coach Don Granato seems to be a great fit for Asplund who is a hard worker and just the kind of third or fourth liner the Sabres need long-term to be successful. If and when Buffalo finally makes the playoffs again, Asplund could be one to watch more closely as he was very effective this past May in the Ice Hockey World Championship (IIHF). In Finland, he shined offensively with teammate Rasmus Dahlin when they represented Sweden. Asplund had several multi-point games, contributed six goals in six games during the preliminary round, and ranked second in the whole tournament behind Pierre-Luc Dubois who had seven goals. He also led his team in ice time with an average of about 24 minutes. With a full season behind him, it will be interesting to see his numbers during the upcoming season and what kind of support he can bring to both his linemates and defense throughout their time on the ice. Perhaps his experience thus far and more time under Granato will give him the confidence to keep moving in the right direction. View the full article
  12. Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images All the names you’d expect to see will be on the ice beginning Thursday. The Buffalo Sabres open training camp with their first on-ice sessions Thursday morning, just a few short days before their preseason kicks off. The team released its camp roster on Wednesday afternoon. There aren’t really any surprises on the roster, with all the usual suspects in attendance. The lone invitee is Spencer Sova, who impressed at both Development Camp over the summer and at last week’s Prospects Challenge. One notable piece of information is how several players have bulked up over the last year. Per the team’s training camp roster, the following players have bulked up since last September: Lukas Rousek (+20 pounds) Oskari Laaksonen (+18 pounds) Casey Fitzgerald (+10 pounds) Jack Quinn (+9 pounds) Matej Pekar (+3 pounds) Brandon Biro (+3 pounds) Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is also listed at 6’5”, an inch taller than he was last year. On the flip side, there are a few players who got leaner over the last year, including goaltender Michael Houser, who is listed at 185 pounds this year compared to 191 last year. Ultimately, I don’t want to focus too much on any player’s height/weight, but the addition of what is presumably muscle for some of these guys will certainly help their game as they look to reach that next level. (Also, please explain to me how Josh Bloom, Olivier Nadeau & Oskari Laaksonen somehow each lost an inch of height? Okay, sure.) Here’s the full camp roster: Forwards Rasmus Asplund Brandon Biro Anders Bjork Josh Bloom Filip Cederqvist Dylan Cozens Zemgus Girgensons Vinne HInostroza Mason Jobst Aleksandr Kisakov Tyson Kozak Peyton Krebs Jiri Kulich Sean Malone Michael Mersch Casey Mittelstadt Brett Murray Olivier Nadeau Kyle Okposo Kohen Olischefski Victor Olofsson Josh Passolt Matej Pekar JJ Peterka Jack Quinn Isak Rosen Lukas Rousek Matt Savoie Riley Sheahan Jeff Skinner Tage Thompson Alex Tuch Brendan Warren Linus Weissbach Defense Zach Berzolla Jacob Bryson Kale Clague Rasmus Dahlin Jeremy Davies Mitch Eliot Casey Fitzgerald Henri Jokiharju Vsevolod Komarov Oskari Laaksonen Mats Lindgren Ilya Lyubushkin Lawrence Pilut Owen Power Chase Priskie Ethan Prow Mattias Samuelsson Spencer Sova (invite) Peter Tischke Goalies Craig Anderson Eric Comrie Michael Houser Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Malcolm Subban Beck Warm View the full article
  13. Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images One song for each player expected at training camp. Buffalo Sabres players are officially reporting to training camp, with the first on-ice sessions scheduled for Thursday and the team’s preseason debut on Sunday. Inspired by a recent piece from The Athletic, as well as Matt Bove’s playlist for his drives to Orchard Park to cover Buffalo Bills games, I decided to put together my own playlist. Here’s one song for each Buffalo Sabres player heading into training camp this week. What’s the basis for these? It depends. Some just seem to fit the player’s current situation. Some seem to fit the vibe they give off. (Also, I have to give kudos to my husband Ryan, whose musical knowledge vastly outperforms my own, for his assistance with a few of these.) It’s all in good fun, so sit back and listen. Rasmus Asplund: Long Promised Road by The Beach Boys Brandon Biro: I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty Anders Bjork: Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake Josh Bloom: What a Feeling by Irene Cara Filip Cederqvist: You’re Gonna Go Far Kid by The Offspring Dylan Cozens: Don’t Stop by Fleetwood Mac Zemgus Girgensons: Zemgus Girgensons by Olas Vinnie Hinostroza: Back in Black by AC/DC Aleksandr Kisakov: New Kid in Town by The Eagles Tyson Kozak: Work by Rihanna Peyton Krebs: Smile Like You Mean It by The Killers Jiri Kulich: Know My Name by The Blancos Sean Malone: Homegrown by Zac Brown Band Casey Mittelstadt: I Ain’t Worried by OneRepublic Brett Murray: Industry Baby by Lil Nas X Olivier Nadeau: We Are Young by fun. Kyle Okposo: Captain by Wiz Khalifa Victor Olofsson: A Favor House Atlantic by Coheed & Cambria Noah Ostlund: Young, Wild & Free by Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa Matej Pekar: abcdefu by GAYLE JJ Peterka: Sunroof by Nicky Youre & Dazy Jack Quinn: Knocking at the Door by Arkells Isak Rosen: Wait for U by Future Lukas Rousek: The Best is Yet to Come by Frank Sinatra Matt Savoie: Born For This by The Score Riley Sheahan: Comeback by Jonas Brothers Jeff Skinner: There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back by Shawn Mendes Tage Thompson: Big Man in Town by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons Alex Tuch: Comin’ to Your City by Big & Rich Linus Weissbach: Not Afraid by Eminem Jacob Bryson: Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band Kale Clague: Changes by David Bowie Rasmus Dahlin: Bad and Boujee by Migos Jeremy Davies: Opus No. 1 by Cisco Casey Fitzgerald: Titanium by David Guetta Henri Jokiharju: Down by Jay Sean Vseolod Komarov: Around the World by Daft Punk Oskari Laaksonen: Save the World by Swedish House Mafia Mats Lindgren: Radar by Britney Spears Iyla Lyubushkin: Never Going Back Again by Fleetwood Mac Lawrence Pilut: Can’t Get You Out of My Head by Kylie Minogue Owen Power: I’m Good by David Guetta & Bebe Rexha Chase Priskie: Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels Band Mattias Samuelsson: Cool by Dua Lipa Craig Anderson: Staying Alive by DJ Khaled Eric Comrie: Welcome to New York by Taylor Swift Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen: Up by Shania Twain Malcolm Subban: Juice by Lizzo View the full article
  14. Casey Mittelstadt is staring down a “prove it” season | Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports The No. 8 pick from 2017 battled injury last season, now battles for his Sabres future The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of staff writers and over 600 readers that ranked Buffalo Sabres players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player. It’s wild to think that it’s only been four years since Casey Mittelstadt made his NHL debut with the Buffalo Sabres, but time has a weird habit of both getting away from us and not going fast at all. But since the end of the 2017-2018 when Mittelstadt signed out of the University of Minnesota, things haven’t gone exactly as he’s planned. In that time, he’s taken his lumps in his rookie season of 2018-2019, been sent to Rochester in the 2019-2020 season and battled through the short but uneventful Ralph Krueger era, and the latest twist of his career: having injury submarine what was poised to be his best opportunity for a breakout season in 2021-2022. Mittelstadt was one of the best Sabres in training camp last season, but in the first game of the season, an upper-body injury put him on the shelf. In his haste to get back on the ice, he re-aggravated the injury and had a heck of a time getting back up to speed once he was good to go by mid-February. Hockey life can be cruel. In his 195 games with Buffalo, he has 33 goals and 47 assists for 80 points. It’s not what he dreamed when he was taken eighth in the 2017 NHL Draft and it’s assuredly not what the Sabres hoped for either. Every season brings renewed hope, and for Mittelstadt that means proving he is a top-six forward and he should be the guy that can spur on the Sabres attack beyond the first line. The passing of time has added competition for playing time and assuredly Dylan Cozens, Peyton Krebs, Jack Quinn, and J-J Peterka will all be vying for that ice time. It’s up to Mittelstadt now to show the injury(-ies) are behind him and he can buoy the attack be it at center or on the wing. View the full article
  15. Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images Buffalo went 3-0 and outscored their opponents 17-10. The Buffalo Sabres wrapped up their Prospects Challenge on Monday afternoon. In three games, the Sabres outscored their opponents 17-10 and won all three games. (I’d say they were the only undefeated team, but the Penguins won their lone game, so technically...) The Standouts I already mentioned Tyson Kozak in my first notebook, but he’s definitely worth noting again. The 19-year-old played in all three games and worked hard, scoring four goals as a result. He’s got an edge to his game that I like, and the way he speaks about the sport, it’s clear why he’s captain of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. The kid has a bright future, and I think he’ll be an underrated prospect who will truly blossom over the next 2-3 years. Jiri Kulich was initially not expected to be on the ice, but after doctors took another look at him, he was given clearance to play. His impact was immediate, and watching him, you can’t help but wonder how in the world he dropped to pick 28. In two games, he had three points. Mats Lindgren wasn’t the flashiest guy out there by any means, but he did a lot of things right and looked like he should’ve been a higher than fourth round pick. Matt Savoie was as expected, a stellar offensive presence. He had three goals and looked the part of a first-round draft pick in his first time on the ice in Buffalo. The Ones You Already Know Both Linus Weissbach and Oskari Laaksonen underwhelmed me a bit in the first game, but really stepped up over the course of the tournament. They were two of the oldest players on the ice and their leadership shone through as the games went on. It’s easy to forget about them as part of the Sabres depth with guys like Quinn and Peterka around, but they’ve steadily been developing and we’ll see what this year brings. The Ones You Don’t Know One invitee who caught my eye is Spencer Sova, who could get a contract from the Sabres. He had two points in three games and played a well-rounded game. Sova currently plays for the OHL’s Erie Otters. Nolan Burke got a well-deserved rest in the Sabres’ third game, but his line as a whole was fantastic in the first two games. Burke and his linemates, regardless of who they were, made things happen, created chances and got the net. Ethan Ritchie also looked like a nice little potential pickup. The 20-year-old had 38 points in 65 games in the OHL last season between Kingston and Sarnia. He appeared in two games at the Prospects Challenge and had three points (1-2). View the full article
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