Buffalo Sabres’ 2022 Off-Season Summary

18 Jul

The work of improving the Buffalo Sabres’ fortunes in the 2022 off-season really began during the season for general manager Kevyn Adams. He was patient and eventually completed the blockbuster trade involving the team’s former captain, Jack Eichel. The disgruntled center was shipped to the Vegas Golden Knights for a couple of NHL-ready players – Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs, and a pair of high draft picks. Last off-season, Adams had the Seattle expansion draft to deal with, and the team was lucky enough to win the draft lottery and made the most of the top pick by selecting big defenseman Owen Power, who will be a cornerstone going forward. Don Granato is now firmly entrenched as the head coach, so this year’s summary has only 3 categories – potential trades, the entry draft and free agency. Here are our opinions on how Adams did or should handle those:


Potential Trades

Most observers expect any trade involving Buffalo will be for their biggest position of need, goaltender. The goalie trade merry-go-round is already in full swing, with Colorado and Detroit swinging deals. Adams tried to swap for Ottawa’s Matt Murray, but he refused to play here and is now off to Toronto. The Sabres seem to have been a step behind other clubs in the goalie market, and may have to look to free agency to fill that need now. There was a rumor, put out in the media by coach Don Granato’s brother-in-law Ray Ferraro, that the Sabres could be considering trading for Chicago’s Patrick Kane, a Buffalo native. At 33, he’s not exactly a good fit for the team’s rebuilding youth movement, but on the other hand he would be a valuable asset for however many years he has left in a couple of different ways. First, in helping the young players learn how to win, and secondly, in helping sell tickets to a fan base exhausted by all the recent losing.


Entry Draft

The Sabres collected 3 first round picks with their own and through the trades of Eichel and Sam Reinhart. They chose skilled centermen with all 3, beginning with Matthew Savoie at pick 9. His strengths are his speed, skating ability, and stick-handling. He was projected as a possible top 5 pick so Buffalo was smart to grab him at 9. With the 16th pick, Swedish centerman Noah Ostlund was the choice. His scouting report is similar to Savoie’s in that it stresses his speed and skill. Finally, Buffalo chose Czech Republic center Jiri Kulich, also known for his speed but one of his strengths is his goal scoring ability. The Sabres pulled a mild surprise when they used their second round pick on a goaltender, the enormous Topias Leinonen from Finland. He’s 6’5 and 233 lbs. Despite his size, his scouting report says he is athletic and quick. One other pick with interesting hockey bloodlines is 4th round defenseman Mats Lindgren Jr., whose father had a long NHL career. With 22 selections in the last 2 drafts, Adams has fortified Buffalo’s pipeline of young prospects heading into the future. Here are the rest of the 2022 picks:

Victor Neuchev (winger from Russia, 3rd round)

Vsevolod Komarov (Russian defenseman who played for Quebec in junior hockey, 5th round)

Jake Richard (forward who played for USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks, pick 6A)

Gustav Karlsson (forward from Sweden, pick 6B)

Joel Ratkovic Berndtsson (forward from Sweden, pick 7A)

Linus Sjodin (forward from Sweden, pick 7B)



Free Agency

There were no big splashes for the Sabres in the early days of free agency. As expected, the team inked a goaltender, Eric Comrie, formerly of the Winnipeg Jets. He’s 27 and has been with 3 different teams, mainly with the Jets. Adams is banking on potential with this signing, as he showed some flashes in 2021 while backing up Connor Hellebuyck. Buffalo also brought in a veteran defenseman from Toronto who plays a somewhat physical style in Ilya Lyubushkin. Buffalo signed 3 more little-known defensemen to two-way contracts (Jeremy Davies, Cale Clague and Chase Priskie) to bolster their defensive depth in the organization. Lawrence Pilut, once a promising prospect who bolted to Europe a couple years ago, was re-signed, along with some important pieces of the current team in Victor Olofsson and Vinnie Hinostroza. With Dustin Tokarski signing in Pittsburgh, Adams re-signed goaltender Malcolm Subban, likely with the idea that he will man the nets in Rochester.

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