Maybe it’s time we have this conversation.
Balancing a team’s young players and their development is not an envious job. The Buffalo Sabres have a lot of young players on their roster, so it’s a tall order for head coach Don Granato, GM Kevyn Adams and staff to find the right balance to help these players prosper.
As we get deeper into the 2022-23 NHL season, one Sabres player who warrants a bit of discussion is forward Peyton Krebs. The 21-year-old has appeared in 18 games this season for the Sabres and is still searching for his first goal. He’s notched three assists, and has found himself watching a handful of games from the press box as the team uses a rotation of forwards.
Perhaps, the best option for Krebs and the Sabres would be to send him down to the AHL’s Rochester Americans – at least temporarily.
While I understand the concept of having a young player like Krebs watch a few games from the press box – to get a different perspective on things, to watch the game from a different angle, I’m not a big fan of it in the long-term.
Any player is almost certainly going to be happier actually playing games rather than just watching. Krebs is only 21 and has just 79 NHL games under his belt, not even a full season’s worth. He has talent, he has potential, but he is also still moldable and in his development. I would much rather see him play in the AHL than be scratched in the NHL.
The good news is this: Krebs is waiver-exempt, which means the Sabres could send him down to Rochester quite easily. The former 17th-overall pick (2019) deserves to play, but he also needs to rediscover his scoring touch. Going 18 games without even one goal isn’t great.
Sending him down to the AHL shouldn’t be seen as a demotion, but an opportunity for him to find his offense and build his confidence. Let him tear it up in the AHL for a bit and then bring him back to Buffalo when the time is right. Things are going well in Amerks land – they’re first in the division as of writing – and Krebs would certainly add to an offense powered by guys like Linus Weissbach, Brett Murray, Jiri Kulich and Lukas Rousek.
It’s easy to forget that Krebs is only 21, but he is, indeed, only 21. He’s still really at the beginning of his pro career and this is the perfect time to give him the right opportunity to thrive. He’s not doing that in the NHL at this moment. Let him do in the AHL — it may end up being the best thing for him.