NHL.com provides detailed roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 32 teams from August 8 through September 1. 8. Today, the Buffalo Sabers.
The Buffalo Sabers won’t be lured by quick fixes, even if they’ve missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 11 straight seasons.
Entering his third season as GM, Kevyn Adams has preached a game plan of youth and development rather than opting to make waves in free agency and the trade market. The goal is to accumulate as much young talent as possible and use the tools within the organization to improve.
“You need patience,” Adams said. “You have to be able to be really honest and self-assess and reflect, but you have to be patient because things don’t happen overnight.”
The Sabers are practicing what they preach. They have three players who are at least 30 years old: goalkeeper craig anderson41 and up kyle okpo33, and Jeff Skinner, 30. To that end, trainer Don Granato will methodically help develop a group of prospects and elevate them to the next level. The 55-year-old, who had an interim tag removed before the 2021-22 season, did so during his time with the US National Hockey Team Development Program, training future NHL players. , including the Toronto Maple Leafs center. auston matthews and Vegas Golden Knights ahead Jack Eichel from 2013-16.
“He’s a very good teacher,” Skinner said. “The talent base continues to grow, and it’s exciting to see these young guys get better and better.”
Granato’s influence could be seen on numerous fronts last season. Skinner scored 33 goals, 12 more than his combined total from the previous two seasons. Rasmus Dahlin, a 22-year-old defenseman, set NHL career highs for goals (13), assists (40), and points (53). Forward Tag Thompson (38 goals, 30 assists, 68 points) did the same and at 24 years old he is still entering his best moment.
The Sabers chose not to make a big splash in free agency. they signed Ilya Lyubushkin to fill the need for a skilled defender and eric comrie to split goalkeeping duties with Anderson.
“They fit our needs, but they also fit what we wanted, in people and competitors,” Granato said. “We didn’t need to do much. We are an organization that, I think, goes month to month, week to week.
“We know we’re going to get better by virtue of our age. We feel like we’ve got the right pieces.”
There is a lot to like.
prospects Owen Power, a 19-year-old defenseman, and forwards Jack Quinn, 20, and JJ Peterka, 20, each made their NHL debuts last season and will have every opportunity to make the Sabers roster after training camp. . The idea of having two No. 1 picks at defense, Dahlin in 2018 and Power in 2021, has created excitement in Buffalo.
“If I had any advice for [Power]I would tell him to be patient,” Dahlin said. “Defense is a tough position to play. You are not going to put the points right away like you might be used to. There is much to learn.
“There is no rush. There will be growing pains.”
Buffalo re-signed Victor Olofsson to a two-year, $9.5 million deal on July 13. The 27-year-old scored 20 goals last season and is part of a group of young forwards with Thompson, Quinn, dylan cozens21, Peyton Krebs, 21, Casey Mittelstadt23, Rasmus Asplund24, alex toch26, and perhaps Peterka.
The Sabers had three first-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft, and while Adams said there was a lot of interest in them from teams that inquired about potential trades, he stuck to the rebuild plan. Buffalo selected three centers, Matthew Savoie (No. 9), Noah Ostlund (No. 16) and Jiri Kulich (No. 28).
Even with the Sabers finishing fifth in the Atlantic Division (32-39-11), they went 14-7-3 in their last 24 games. Adams said he liked the improvement the young players showed during that run, but stressed they won’t be pressured into a few extra wins.
The focus, he said, is long-term.
“We’re not going to be in a place where we’re going to rush anybody,” Adams said. “We’re going to let these guys develop.”