Mike Harrington: It’s hard to see Ottawa and Detroit go for it, but Kevyn Adams stays the course | Buffalo Sabers News

At times like this, you have to laugh at yourself and think about the process. How many times have we heard Sean McDermott talk about it? Way more than we wanted, but he wasn’t straying from it and nothing you or I or anyone else would say he would change his mind.

Which brings us to Kevyn Adams.

Now, building a hockey team is very different from building a football team. The NFL allows instant draft transformation that doesn’t exist when you pick 18-year-old hockey players, many of whom come from faraway lands.

The Sabers general manager formulated his “Process” to the point of nausea and repeated it Wednesday in the LECOM Harborcenter: He identifies a core for his team and lets this group develop and grow together. You don’t block their ice time or development path with expensive items, at least not now.

And it’s safe to say there was a lot of happiness throughout the organization as development camp opened Wednesday with seven first-round picks and loads of other talent on the ice.

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Adams also got what he needed on Wednesday, getting Victor Olofsson re-signed to a team-friendly two-year contract, then heading to free agency for a goalie in physical right-handed defenseman Eric Comrie. to Ilya Lyubushkin as well as some reinforcements in defense. for Rochester.

Vinnie Hinostroza and Malcom Subban also return, the latter teaming up with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in the Rochester net.

Like all these movements. Comrie is considered a risk, but he’s looked good the past two years in the AHL and NHL in Winnipeg. And it’s a huge chance for him to step out of Connor Hellebuyck’s shadow and start over 40 games for the Sabers. Lyubushkin is a physical defenseman the Sabers need.

The Sabers’ hockey operations department targeted veteran goaltenders who signed for one or two years to work in tandem with Craig Anderson and fill the starting job until a prospect was ready. And shortly after free agency opened, general manager Kevyn Adams got his favorite target.

Still, it’s hard for us outcast mortals not to see what’s going on out of town in the Atlantic Division and wonder how clouded the upward path the Sabers seemed to be on has become.

The Ottawa Senators traded for Alex DeBrincat and Cam Talbot, then signed local hero Claude Giroux in free agency. The Detroit Red Wings traded goaltender Ville Husso, then signed forwards Andrew Copp, David Perron and Dominik Kubalik, along with defensemen Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta.

The Sabers finished ahead of both teams last season, one point ahead of Detroit and two ahead of Ottawa. Playing to a 103-point pace over the past 28 games was certainly encouraging, but what, if anything, that means for this season remains to be seen.

Ottawa, in particular, took huge steps forward and Detroit opted for a large amount. The Sabers follow their plan. In the long run, it could absolutely benefit them. Currently? It leaves you hoping they’re right, but wondering if they are.

Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion doesn’t have a great resume that should make him look bigger than Adams. Detroit’s Steve Yzerman obviously does.

“I think you pay attention to what’s going on around the league, pay attention to what other teams are doing,” Adams said when asked for his reaction to his division rivals’ moves. “But at the end of the day, we don’t worry about that. And we don’t worry about what other teams are doing. We have a plan and we’re going to stick to it.

“A key thing for me is to make sure we do everything we can to help our own players improve and to make sure we top it all off with the right kind of people in the key positions we’ve targeted today. What other teams do or how they do it, everyone is in a different position. But I think for us, we believe in this team, we believe in the players we have here.”

We know that. But, I asked again, what about Ottawa and Detroit? Two teams you are ostensibly competing with have just reached a milestone.

“They have good players,” Adams said. “This league is competitive, and if that’s where they felt they needed to move. They’re both great general managers and smart guys. But honestly, I don’t really think about that. I think so much to our team. And I think about what [coach Don Granato] and I’m mostly talking about everyday: “Where are our players at the moment, how can we improve them?”







Sabers Development Camp

Buffalo Sabers general manager Kevyn Adams and owner Terry Pegula look on during development camp at LECOM Harborcenter on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.


Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News


Now, on the Sabers’ organizational journey, it was actually a pivotal day. Have we ever seen them with this kind of elite young talent on a single sheet of ice at the same time?

“I just think our scouting team did a fabulous job selecting skills, skating skills and hockey intelligence,” said Rochester coach Seth Appert, who ran the on-ice portion of the program. . “And then also character, guys who lead their teams, guys who were captains, leaders who are going to come in and be strong future Sabers.”

It’s the first time 2019 draft picks Ryan Johnson, Erik Portillo and Aaron Huglen have been able to participate in Sabers activity in three years, since initial camp after their selection. It was the first development camp at all for one of the 2020 or 2021 picks, and it meant the first time in Buffalo for names like Isak Rosen.

Johnson, who has long been rumored to be awaiting free agency, did not say he would sign with the Sabers rather than return to school, but said how happy he was to be here and how much he loved the organization and was looking forward to signing. Very positive.

Portillo was much more reserved about his future. He seems to see the writing on the wall. Adams’ group didn’t draft him and they’re clearly pushing Devon Levi as their future keeper.

Yet you have looked at the mirror and seen so many things worth looking at. Owen Power was there. Just like Peyton Krebs, Jack Quinn, JJ Peterka and Mattias Samuelsson. There’s a lot of hope for a lot of draft picks. It really is the way of doing things. The Sabers have shorted in the past and it has failed miserably. Watch how Colorado just won the Stanley Cup five years after a 48-point season, without finishing the team with trades or free agents until they were fully ready to play.

Who’s in town for the season opener on October 13? Ottawa. It’s in three months. Things certainly change in this league in a hurry. Forget tight rankings. It was as if the Sabers had passed Ottawa and Detroit and were now on the hunt for the biggest game in the division like Boston.

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