So, we’ve all had our say-so on the promotion of Kevyn Adams. He’s unqualified for the role. He’s got no support. He’s got no connections around the League. This is a franchise that can’t afford a fresh-faced rookie at this point in time! I am in agreement with all of these things.
To compound matters, no one in their right mind would want to play in Buffalo. The city isn’t dynamic, taxes are approaching Canadian levels (in comparison with, say Dallas or Tampa), the weather isn’t great, and most importantly, the franchise is in shambles at almost all levels. Meddling ownership that lurches drunkenly from one misstep to another. The bagger position at your local grocery store has more job security than anyone in management. Agents and players automatically add Buffalo to their list of teams they can submit as part of their no-trade clause. The team’s playoff drought is going on a decade. So you have to assume most free agents who aren’t looking to keep their NHL lives going will not come to BFLO unless overpaid to do so. So options are limited. Adams must get creative to try and upgrade this roster. Can an absolute novice do that…?
Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Maybe…maybe…this could work. Or at least be interesting! Why? For all the reasons I mentioned above. Adams will be under pressure from Minute One to succeed, right? To get this team to the playoffs. To build ‘through youth’ (i.e. cheaply). Most importantly, to upgrade revenue…and to protect a certain quality of lifestyle. All of these things could be mutually exclusive, but the Pegulas aren’t concerned with self-contradiction. The silver lining? He’s got no attachments to ANYONE. No one on the roster he traded for. No one he drafted. No one he’s worked with in the past, been part of signing or drafting or trading, because he’s never worked in a front office! He’s got no friendships with other GMs. No past favors to acknowledge. So we have a complete Tabula Rasa. Why would that be good?
First Reason: Two words…Offer Sheet.
Now, the Sabres are a bit hamstrung when it comes to Offer Sheet compensation, primarily because they gave up their 3rd this year and next year, so they can’t go for big time players like, say, a Brayden Point, Pierre-Luc Dubois or a Matt Barzal. But you can go after guys on teams that up and coming players that have to get paid. Especially with a flat cap situation like it is rumored to be. I looked at a number of guys, like Vince Dunn in STL, Mikhail Sergachev in TB, Nolan Patrick in PHI, and Dominik Kubalik in CHI, but I finally settled on someone not as flashy, but I think fits the Krueger system.
Second Reason: no one should be safe. Except for Eichel and Dahlin. So I made a move of someone I would not normally consider moving.
Third Reason: no prejudging where you draft from. Adams doesn’t come in with preferences of particular leagues/styles of players, and most of his amateur staff is gutted. So I took a Russian and a mid-round CHL’er with my picks. Bold, eh?
So here’s an example of what could be possible:
DRAFT: Sabres have Selection #8. As one would expect, let’s say Rossi, Stutzle, and Drysdale all come off the Board before they choose. So they do something highly unusual…they trade down out of the Top 10!
TRADE: #8 -> MIN #12, #42, #135
#12: Connor Zary, C, WHL – gives them a deep, varied group of young centers (Zary, Mitts, Cozens). One of them has to work out, right?
OFFER SHEET: Jake Virtanen, 4 years at $3.5M -> 2nd
I just got an extra 2nd in the trade down. So, I can pay someone up to $4.2M and only have to give up a 2nd round pick…IF they sign the offer sheet. Here I get a guy who has improved each of the last 3 years in terms of scoring goals (10, 15, on pace for 21), he’s big, loves to hit, and can fly. Great puck retriever and forechecker. And I’m going to promise him a spot on the Eichel line, where he can potentially put up big numbers!
#42 (MIN): Thomas Bordeleau, C/W, US NTDP
#100: Luke Reid, RHD, USHL
#102 (CHI): James Hardie, RW, OHL
#131: Oliver Tarnstrom, C, SWE
#135 (MIN): Jack Smith, C/W, US HS
#193: Vsevolod Skotnikov, G, RUS
#209: Mattias Rajaniemi, LHD, FIN
TRADE: Brandon Montour -> NAS Nick Bonino, Frederic Allard, Tommy Novak
NAS might be looking for an established D to round out their Top 4 and let the kids develop on the bottom pair. Salaries should be a wash, but Bonino is on an expiring deal. Still, he should shelter Cozens and take a lot of D-zone starts. Allard and Novak are both guys who have great qualities and have been really good at the AHL level. Closer to the NHL than picks, and supposedly Adams/T&K want more development in Rochester. Boom! There you go, boss(es)! More center and D-Man depth is always a good thing.
TRADE: Sam Reinhart -> NYI Nick Leddy, Anthony Beauvillier, 2021 1st
Rino seems like a fixture, but he’s coming up for a big deal. Does BFLO want to pay? In this economy? With a flat cap (or worse)? I’m skeptical. So they bring in a nice deal. A 2nd pair LHD who can move the puck up ice and has some creativity, a fast, young high-motor middle-line scorer (on pace for about 45 points this year!), and a 1st next year. The NYI will likely put Rino on Barzal’s line and as smart as he is, he’ll thrive in Trotz’s system while clearing some room and a little cap for their kids coming up on the back-end.
TRADE: Carter Hutton (50% retained) -> CHI 2020 4th
CHI is in a bad way Cap-wise if the Cap is indeed flat (or worse). They bring Hutton back to the division where he’s been successful before, it’s for cheap ($1.3M) and that retention ups the return to a 4th. And I hear they have excellent optometrists in the Windy City.
TRADE: BFLO 2022 (conditional) 5th -> ARZ Adin Hill (sign for 1-way deal)
Speaking of a 4th, Adin Hill had a really nice year last year. He’s a huge goalie, had a .918 Sv% both at the NHL level (only 15 or so games) and the AHL level. But he’s not going to displace Raanta or Kuemper, who just signed an extension, and there are guys coming up behind him. BFLO is able to snag him for a song. And he’ll come cheap, since in ARZ he had a 2-way deal, so locking him up for a 1-way even at a reduced rate is an upgrade for him.
Skinner (9) – Eichel (10) – Virtanen (3.5)
MoJo (4.5) – Bonino (4.1) – Olofsson (3.75)
Kahun (2.6) – Cozens (.925) – Beauvillier (2.1)
Asplund (.845) – Lazar (.9) – Okposo (6)
Kuhnackl (.825) – Shore (.875)
Dahlin (.925) – Joker (.925)
Leddy (5.5) – Risto (5.4)
McCabe (2.8) – Miller (3.9)
Ullmark (2.95) – Hill (.85)
CAP HIT: $78.4M (with overages, Hutton’s retention and CoHo’s buy-out)
Smith – Mitts – Dea
Oglevie – Novak – Thompson
Olofsson – Malone – Pekar
Biro – Cornel – Murray
Randell – Burton
Bryson – Borgen
Samuelsson – Allard
Fitz – Laaksonen
UPL – JJ
LD: Bryson/Samuelsson/Ry Johnson/Worge Kreu/Cronholm/Rajaniemi
PROTECTED LIST for SEATTLE EXPANSION DRAFT:
7 Forwards: Eichel – Virtanen – Beauvillier – Olofsson – Skinner – Mitts – Kahun
3 Defense: Dahlin – Joker – Borgen
1 Goalie: Ullmark