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Hamilton: Sabres must be smart, not flashy, with key offseason moves

The most important is figuring out what the Sabres are going to do with Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen and Linus Ullmark.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — I know fans are getting anxious to know what’s going to happen with their hockey team now that the offseason has started. 

So many things have to happen, and I think we can say so many important things. The most important is figuring out what the Sabres are going to do with Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen and Linus Ullmark.

We know general manager Kevyn Adams would like to get these trades done sooner than later because he would like to get more high first-round picks for the NHL Draft that begins in July 23.

I would be surprised if Owen Power isn’t the No. 1 overall pick by the Sabres, but they would like to get in on the forwards available, which include Dylan Guenther, William Eklund, Matty Beniers, Mason McTavish and Kent Johnson. 

Adams has to get his protected list into the NHL for the Expansion Draft by July 17, and with the possibilities of trades being made, that could change a lot. Adams also has to deal with the NHL trade and waiver freeze from July 17 until July 22. 

After the draft, the NHL begins free agency on July 28. That pretty much never works out for the Sabres. I would stay away from the high-end guys, or you wind up with contracts like Jeff Skinner or Matt Moulson.

There are some very good bottom-six forwards available that the Sabres desperately need. I’m not talking about goons or fighters. I’m talking about guys that make their team hard to play against. Guys that can contribute to the offense, but also make sure that liberties aren’t taken with the better players.

Did you see what Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow have done for the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning? Coleman made $1.8 million this season, and Goodrow made $850,000. Both are unrestricted free agents starting July 28. 

Adams knows very well that this team has a huge disconnect with its fans. In all my years covering this team and the Bills, I have never seen a team hated by the fans as much as this one is. Adams knows fans are in show-me mode.

I’ve always known Adams to have a level head, and as this offseason starts, I think he has his eye on the long-term prize, not just this season, and I think that’s the right way to approach it.

Yes, there may only be 10,000 fans in the build for a year or two, but if this is done right, they’ll be back.