BUFFALO, N.Y. — Kevyn Adams has only been the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres for two hockey seasons, but Terry Pegula has given him a multiyear contract extension.
Adams was hired on June 16, 2020, right after Jason Botterill was fired.
There were legitimate questions right away because Adams had never been a GM at any level of professional hockey. The one thing I remember telling our Adam Benigni is Adams had had many jobs under the Pegulas over at Harborcenter, and even in the Sabres business front office.
Kim wanted to give him many different experiences to eventually get him ready to do what he’s doing now. The Pegulas always envisioned Adams as the Sabres general manager. Adams started with no experience, and in every job, he worked relentlessly and wound up figuring it out and doing well.
So far, he has done that as GM. Adams talked to his friend and former teammate Rod Brind’Amour, who is the very good coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. He went to 1 Bills Drive to talk to Brandon Beane to find out what he and Sean McDermott did to turn around the Buffalo Bills organization in a short period of time.
The theme that Adams never waivers from, and never will, and is the foundation of who he is as a general manager is he wants good players who are good human beings, who want to play in Buffalo, and that is non-negotiable.
Jack Eichel was going to be traded by Adams whether he had an injury or not. Eichel didn’t want to be here, and that really upset Terry Pegula after all the times he had bent over backward for his captain.
Adams showed me something when he didn’t just do a trade because fans were all over him and were restless. There were young players he had targeted, and no team was getting Eichel unless Adams got the targeted young player.
The Vegas Golden Knights finally flinched last November, and Adams had the young prospect he coveted in Peyton Krebs. In addition, he got a top-six forward who couldn’t be happier to play for the Sabres in Alex Tuch, and he got a first and a second-round pick. The first-round pick was used this season to select Noah Ostlund.
Adams wants to leave no stone unturned, so he hired the best analytics mind in the NHL in Sam Ventura. Adams wants to hear from both his scouts and from Ventura’s staff on every player they bring into the fold. The director of amateur scouting, Jerry Forton, said he sits down with Ventura to talk about players before they’re drafted. Adams wants every branch of the hockey department to work in unison.
I like Adams’ plan, and I think for the first time since Danny Briere and Chris Drury were on this team, they have it right. I will listen to the argument that this is premature after just two seasons and three drafts. If the Sabres show no improvement in the standings and Tage Thompson only scores 10 goals this season, Adams will and should have to answer some tough questions from Pegula.
Adams has hired one coach and to me, it appears he struck gold with Don Granato. I would be very surprised if Adams and Granato are failures, but you never know. That’s why we’re headed to training camp on Thursday.
Yes, it’s hockey season, and I couldn’t be happier.