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Sabres weighing options with three first-round picks at 2022 NHL Draft

GM has 'critical opportunity' to improve roster short- and long-term

by Heather Engel / NHL.com Independent Correspondent
 June 13, 2022

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres are keeping their options open with their three first-round picks in the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft, general manager Kevyn Adams said Monday.


"I'd still say if right now, that's probably where I'm very comfortable with [keeping the picks], but we're also going to make sure that we're having all those conversations," Adams said. "We're going to do whatever we feel is the best possible thing for our organization, puts us in the best position moving forward, both short and long term. So, that's what we balance.


" ... But I also look at it as such a critical opportunity for our organization to move forward and build. That's why it's such an exciting time."


The Sabres have picks No. 9, 16 (acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights as part of the trade for forward Jack Eichel) and 28 (from the Florida Panthers, as part of the trade for forward Sam Reinhart on July 24, 2021) in the first round of this year's draft, which will be held July 7 at Bell Centre in Montreal. Rounds 2-7 will be held July 8.


"To have a top-10 pick, to have a middle-of-the-first-round pick, and then to have a late first-round pick puts us in such a unique position, for a lot of reasons," Adams said. "One of them is I can't imagine it's very often where every single player that you're really looking at in the first round is kind of within our realm of possibility. You're doing your due diligence on every single option because you have those picks spread out.


"The other thing is having multiple picks gives you currency if you were to try to make a move, whether it's for a trade with a team that's going to do something for our roster, whether it's to move up in the draft or move down in the draft. All those things are in play because we have the assets. So, that's a really unique and an exciting opportunity for us."


The extra assets could help the Sabres potentially fill holes after they finished strong, going 16-9-3 over the final 28 games of the season. Buffalo has immediate needs, most notably in goal, and isn't expected to be heavily involved when free agency begins July 13.


"You certainly evaluate where you are as an organization and what's going on right now and then projecting out longer term," Adams said.


Adams said it's a delicate balance between trying to build up the Sabres system while also seeing growth from the current group. Buffalo (32-39-11) has not qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2011.


"You certainly want to make sure you're prepared for every single possible scenario, which we're doing, phone calls and conversations to make sure we know what options are available for us," Adams said. "But it's also what you balance off on that is the long-term, the pipeline that you need, and I really, really believe that you need to build up a strong pipeline of prospects.


"We want to put ourselves in a position to have sustainable success as an organization and are going to be in a position where, as our roster evolves and as you have to make decisions years down the road, we have a prospect pool that can come in and step in and become the next generation.


So, you're balancing the now and where your roster's at and assets that you have that maybe you would do something versus the long-term view. And that's why you have the conversations, then you make the decisions. But that's kind of what we're in the middle of right now."

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