With the official conclusion of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final on Monday, the National Hockey League offseason is officially underway league-wide.
For teams like the Buffalo Sabres, preparations for the 2020-21 season will continue to progress as their offseason started when the NHL announced its Return To Play format back on May 26.
It will be an important time coming up for general manager Kevyn Adams as he prepares for his first NHL Draft next Tuesday, as well as his first go-around with NHL Free Agency starting Oct. 9. Adams will also have some key decisions to make with players already on the roster, whether it relates to upcoming free agents or moving out some bodies to improve the complexity of the team.
You can track all of the latest moves from the Sabres with our offseason tracker:
The Sabres are currently in the middle of a franchise record nine-year playoff drought, where Buffalo has not managed to come close at sniffing the postseason since their last appearance in 2011. It will be key for Adams to try and get the Sabres turned in the right direction and fast with the unrest that is settling in with the fanbase.
Adams took some time on Tuesday to join Andrew Peters, Craig Rivet and Martin Biron on The Instigators to talk about his plans for the upcoming 2020-21 season, the report from TSN’s Bob McKenzie of teams calling about the availability of captain Jack Eichel, the Eric Staal trade and more.
Here is some of what he had to say:
Adams on the report of teams calling about Eichel:
“People call and make phone calls and ask about players every day, and my job is to listen and have conversations. It’s something that I want to make very clear that we have no intention, and we’re not shopping Jack or talking to teams looking to do anything with Jack. It’s just people calling to ask questions and you have conversations. That’s really the extent of it.”
Adams on the addition of Eric Staal to the Sabres:
“When I talked to Eric right after the trade, it was simply, ‘I don’t want to talk about hockey right now. I know you’ve got a million things going on in your brain, you have a family, you’re thinking about your kids’ school and hockey, and what are you going to do with the house.’ That’s all the natural reaction… I wanted to make sure that was very clear, and he appreciated… We had a great chat the next day… We were fortunate enough to catch up and spend a bit of time and talk about where he’s at and how he’s feeling.”
“I think I’m fortunate where a trade like this, I did a lot of homework on Eric as a player and where his game is currently at, how we thought he could help us on the ice. The other part I already knew. I know him as a person, I know everything he stands for, his character, what he will be in the locker room, the professionalism. All those things you would do your homework on typically, but I already knew that having been his former teammate. He was great. He said, ‘Look, I’m excited. Let me know what we need to do to help this team win.’ It was a great conversation.
Adams on his plans for the eighth overall pick in next week’s NHL Draft:
“I’m now at the point right now where I’m super excited for a week from today. I’ve tried to spend early mornings watching video on the guys that we’re having conversations about… I feel really good about where we are in our process, but at the same point, this is about making the Buffalo Sabres better. We’re going to listen, we’re going to put ourselves in a position where we are open to any scenario, but we’re excited about the player that we’ll get at eight.”
Adams on the potential of Dylan Cozens playing with the Sabres this season:
“The league has changed in a sense where I do think that younger players are more prepared to play in the National Hockey League than they maybe used to be. I don’t know if that’s because of the training, and even at a young age the players understand fitness, diet… I think there still needs to be a level of earning your spot, and I do also think that you rarely, rarely would ever go back and say that a guy spent too much time in the American Hockey League. He was too ready for the NHL. You want to put guys in a position to succeed, not put guys in a position to maybe be set up for failure. It’s on the prospects to own their own development and get themselves prepared to go earn a job, but you want to make sure you’re protecting them as well. I think it’s a balance. We want to put the best guys in our lineup, and if guys are ready regardless of their age, they’ll be on our team.”
You can listen to the entire interview below: