BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Unlike the NFL or NBA draft, you won’t see most players drafted in the NHL for a while. This is the case outside of maybe the first couple picks, depending on the year and draft class.
NHL teams use the draft to build up their prospects pipeline that come into play years down the road while the continue to develop. But what about getting players to a team that can help now and make an immediate impact when the season starts? That’s part of the job of an NHL general manager is to find that balance of acquiring prospects for the future but also getting guys in that can help a team win now, something first-time GM Kevyn Adams looks to do.
This is Adams’ first draft as GM of the Sabres after he was promoted in June when they fired former GM Jason Botterill after three seasons. Adams’ has already made a move for a player to help now by trading for veteran center Eric Staal with Minnesota in exchange for Marcus Johansson.
That will certainly help fill the void of a second-line center, something the Sabres have been searching for as Casey Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens continue to develop.
And when it comes to the draft and filling positions, Adams wouldn’t commit to one specific area he’s targeting.
“We need to improve our roster. Period. We need to become a better team so I’ve had conversations I have not eliminated anything because I say ‘oh we’re fine here, we don’t want to talk about this’ so if you just look at our team yes we have more right shot D than left shot D so would we like to see some type of mix or how would we get the partners working together? Definitely but what I’ve tried to be very careful,” Adams said.
“I’ve had conversations and I’m working my way around the league talking about options with other teams and not just boxing ourselves in and say ‘I’m looking for this’ and this is it. When you’re getting to that point as a team you may be the Tampa Bay Lightning and you just won a Stanley Cup and you have this team that maybe it’s a little tweak here and there,” Adams explained.
That’s definitely not the Buffalo Sabres right now.
But one thing Adams did point to was character.
” I do think character is really important. I think you have to look bigger than just what happens on the ice too, you need to think about your locker room, you need to think about the dynamic that’s in the room and the veterans and how young players learn from veterans so those are the things as I’m thinking about a roster,” Adams said.
“If we would really love a certain position but we think a different position helps our team and it upgrades us then we’ll do that and then we’ll work on this later.”
The Sabres have the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft as of right now, that doesn’t mean that can’t change if a certain opportunity presents itself.
“I think it’s being open to any and all scenarios. I want to help our team get better, I want to help our team get better right now but I also won’t make a decision or won’t recommend to make a decision that is not putting ourselves longer term in a good spot. So that’s where the balance is for me,” Adams said.
This is considered a deep draft class so there’s a lot of talent to choose from which could make the decision of whether or not to trade the pick even tougher.
“I feel very strongly, there’s a lot of good hockey players in this draft, we like the position we’re in so I’m open to the conversations. I’ve had conversations and we’ll see where it goes in the next close to 24 hours and we’ll see what happens but I’m open to everything.”