The House That Kevyn Built: The New Age Sabres

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s June 2020, and the Sabres have truly hit rock bottom. They are a terrible bottom feeding team, just like the last decade. The only bright spot on the team, star center Jack Eichel, wants out. Ralph Krueger is their head coach. Every Sabres fan is miserable. Until Jason Botteril, who was the GM at the time, got fired. A little-known vice president of business operations is hired to be his replacement. What fans don’t know, is that this man will be the guy to right the ship. His name is Kevyn Adams, and the upstart Buffalo you see today is the house that Kevyn built. So, how did he turn such a horrid team around in three years? Well, I’ll show you.

Part 1: Restarting in the 2020-2021 Season

When Adams is hired, it comes with the task of completely rehiring a scouting staff and some development coaches. Owner Terry Pegula had essentially cleaned house, so the team was back to square one from the top down. Keep in mind Adams was hired right before the 2020 NHL draft. Somehow, he can scrounge together a skeleton scouting staff. He drafts Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka. They will come up later. There are more pressing matters. During the 2020 season, the team is the worst in hockey. Free agent signing Taylor Hall is a disaster, the team is plagued with injury, and Ralph Krueger’s coaching is abysmal. So they sell like crazy at the deadline.

Jake McCabe and Nick Foligno in front of the net (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

2021 Trade Deadline and Offseason

Here is where Adams began to truly unravel this team. Brandon Montour, Rasmus Ristolainen Taylor Hall, and even Sam Reinhardt were all dealt. It was a full house clean, and Adams got decent returns for them. But the top get was goaltender Devon Levi. If you’ve watched the Sabres as of late, you’ll know Devon Levi looks like the franchise goaltender this team has been looking for since franchise legend Ryan Miller left the team. I’d argue this was his best move as a GM. But the move that will define his legacy came during the next season. After drafting Owen Power with the first overall pick, it was time for the 2021-2022 season.

The Trade

After promoting Rochester Americans coach Don Granato to replace the horrid Ralph Krueger, it was time for the 2021-2022 season. And after the trademark Sabres hot start, they had a horrid November. But the real story of November happened on the 4th. Jack Eichel had been traded. The return? A 1st and 3rd, Peyton Krebs, and hometown boy Alex Tuch. And once they stuck Tuch on a line with Jeff Skinner and the emerging Tage Thompson, the Sabres looked like a real team again. I personally think this is a win win trade, but only time will tell. Eichel got a cup this year with Vegas, and we will see if Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs can help bring a cup to Buffalo.

The Future of the Sabres

From this point to this day, Adams really hasn’t made any crazy moves. But he has had some great drafts. The future in Buffalo is incredibly bright. Look no further than the Americans making the Calder Cup conference finals in 2023. Remember Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka, Adams’ first picks? They had outstanding years in Rochester before becoming a part of the Sabres top 9 forwards this year. Matt Savoie looks great, Ryan Johnson should be up with the main team soon, and Zach Benson has made the team as an 18(!) year old. The Sabres have been a historically bad drafting team. But Adams has flipped that on its head. I expect the majority of his draft picks to become high-level players, whether that is with the Sabres or with another team.

Conclusion

The 2023-2024 season will have started by the time this article is done, and I have one thing to say. Keep your eyes on Kevyn Adams’ new look Sabres. I believe this is the year when they finally break the playoff drought. This team has all the tools. And the man who built this house truly put on a masterclass.

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