Buffalo Sabres: Kevyn Adams’ major weakness involves acquiring less-than serviceable talent

Contrary to some claims, Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams has built the team correctly, except when it comes to acquiring outside talent…mostly…

Buffalo Sabres v Carolina Hurricanes
Buffalo Sabres v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

You can’t credit Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and head coach Don Granato enough for building a talented core group for this hockey team. Sure, they regressed this season, but the fan base has completely forgotten the golden rule of success and has pushed the panic button in response. 

Success doesn’t involve steady improvement, as if it did, we would all be reaping the rewards of success in any endeavor a little more each year. Instead, success involves highs and lows, mountains and valleys, and at times, a step back for every two steps forward, unfortunately, and that dip is where the Sabres happen to be. 

One of the reasons stems from Adams and his inability to land sound talent from the outside. There is no one better in the NHL in identifying and drafting talent to be built through the system, something JJ Peterka, Jack Quinn, Owen Power, and Zach Benson have proved, but wow, few are worse than Adams at trading for players and signing free agents to help this team win. 

A contingent of fans claim Adams is “afraid” to make a big move to land a blockbuster deal through free agency or trades, but given his track record in doing so, I’d be afraid too. This is a guy who signed Taylor Hall in 2020, a player who was coming off of a 52-point season. Hall lasted just 37 games for the Sabres, and he scored just two goals. 

Buffalo Sabres general manager isn’t good at acquiring outside talent

Other notable signings and acquisitions included Eric Comrie, Ilya Lyubushkin, Tyson Jost, Riley Stillman, Jordan Greenway, Erik Johnson, Connor Clifton, and Eric Robinson. That’s a pretty sorry group overall, with Comrie likely on his way out after the Sabres recently put Jost on waivers

Stillman has been in Rochester all season while Johnson scores the occasional goal and has been a contributor on the penalty kill, but has done little else in his career twilight. Clifton has had his moments, but we have also seen far more downs than ups.

Of the group, only Greenway has provided immense value, and since his trade package involved a second-round pick, we can heave a collective sigh of relief. The jury remains out on Robinson, but we will know more about him by the end of the season. 

Adams did, however, bring in a trio of sound assets during his three trades in 2021, with Alex Tuch evolving into a top-line winger. Peyton Krebs hasn’t evolved into the same type of player, but he’s nonetheless become a solid defensive forward. And of course, there is Devon Levi, who has shown us he’s capable of becoming a long-term fixture at goaltender even amidst some rookie struggles.

Aside from the Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart trades that brought in more than just draft picks, and the acquisition of Jordan Greenway, Adams has a spotty track record at bringing guys in from the outside. Maybe that will change, but for the time being, one reason behind the Buffalo Sabres struggles is his lack of ability to adequately identify outside talent. 


(Information provided by Hockey-Reference)