General manager Kevyn Adams has done a remarkable job with the Buffalo Sabres since he took the leading role in the organization’s front office.
Every season, The Athletic ranks NHL front offices based on polls from their respective fan bases and the public’s confidence in them. Last year, Kevyn Adams and the Buffalo Sabres snagged a 14th-place finish overall. This season, they nearly doubled their respective slots, jumping from 14th to eighth.
What’s more interesting, however, is that the data provided by The Athletic saw that the public (fans polled from other NHL teams), and not the fan base, has more confidence in the Blue and Gold in every single category that included roster building, vision, free agency, trading, drafting and developing prospects, and cap management.
Even more, Buffalo ranked sixth in the league in the public’s general view and 12th overall with the fans, averaging out to eighth when stacked against the other 31 teams. 82% of the public said they had more confidence in the Sabres over the past year while just 70% of the fan base said they were more confident.
So why isn’t the fan base singing Kevyn Adams’ praises like the public that was polled in this survey? From those I’ve interacted with, many felt Adams should have done more to address the goaltender situation, and to have pulled off a blockbuster trade – especially since we saw the likes of Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson, and Brett Pesce in the rumor mill.
Buffalo Sabres fans should be more confident in GMKA’s front-office
But why, if what Adams is doing isn’t broken, would he deviate even slightly from his plan? Sure, if the Sabres finished with something like 80 points last season, then clearly, Adams should be doing something different, or at least tweaking things.
Buffalo finished with 91 points and literally just one win out of earning a playoff berth with what was the league’s youngest hockey team overall. This, more than anything else, should have instilled confidence in over 70% of the fan base, or to be more accurate, those included in The Athletic’s sample size.
Adams’ system is working, and until it’s proven otherwise, you need to stand behind what he’s doing. The 2022-23 Buffalo Sabres was the best team we had seen on the ice over 10 years, and they finally gave us a chance to be optimistic for the following season.
So what if he didn’t trade for Hellebuyck or Pesce? So what if he didn’t make a splash in free agency? Adams didn’t have to because the Blue and Gold are trending north and have become one of the NHL’s most exciting young teams to follow.
Maybe it was just a bad sample size of 11,000 fans polled for all 32 teams (average of 344 per), which can skew results. But if The Athletic’s study holds any water, then we as a fan base need to take a longer, more critical look at the success Adams has brought since he arrived in Buffalo, because he’s building a team that has improved every single year.
Source: NHL front-office confidence rankings, 2023: How fans feel about every team by Dom Luszczyszyn, The Athletic