BUFFALO, N.Y. — General manager Kevyn Adams is likely going to have to count on his young core as he moves forward. All the Twitter experts have been telling me for three years that the cupboard is bare for the Buffalo Sabres, but this season showed that it’s not.
Adams has made it quite clear that he has a plan to bring this team back to where the fans and players are proud of the Buffalo Sabres. If players don’t want to be here, they’ll be gone, but the Sabres' youngsters are excited for the future.
Young players who showed they are part of the Sabres' future included Dylan Cozens, Rasmus Dahlin, Henri Jokiharju, Arttu Ruotsalainen, Will Borgen, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Jacob Bryson, Mattias Samuelsson, Casey Mittelstadt, Victor Olofsson, Rasmus Asplund, Tage Thompson and Jack Quinn.
There are young draft picks who are developing, such as Ryan Johnson, Linus Weissbach, Matej Pekar, J.J. Peterka, Erik Portillo and Oskari Laaksonen.
None of us know if or when Jack Eichel will be traded, but I need to make something clear right now. If the Los Angeles Kings want to acquire Eichel, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2020 NHL draft, Quinton Byfield, must be in the deal, and that’s non-negotiable. If he’s not, then you move on.
Byfield is a center who is 6 feet, 4 inches and 215 pounds. I can only imagine how good the Sabres could be with Byfield and Cozens moving forward. You can forget about Rasmus Kupari or Tobias Bjornfort or anybody else. Last season Byfield scored 32 goals and 50 assists for 82 points in 45 games for the Sudbury Wolves.
If the New York Rangers want Eichel, then the top pick of the 2020 draft, Alexis Lafreniere, must be coming to Buffalo along with 2018 first round pick defenseman K’Andre Miller. Again, if you want a superstar, it’s this or there’s no deal.
If it’s the Chicago Blackhawks, then the third overall pick in 2019, Kirby Dach, must be a Buffalo Sabre.
This is the way Adams can fulfill his promise top improve this team. It can’t be the Ryan O’Reilly trade where the St. Louis Blues said Robert Thomas is untouchable and you settle for Thompson. The Blues should’ve been told if Thomas isn’t coming to Buffalo, then O’Reilly isn’t coming to St. Louis.
If you’re a Sabres fan and you could move forward knowing your top two centers could be Cozens and Byfield or Cozens and Dach, I think you could be very excited about the future of this team.
Adams said he asked players if they want to be part of this. Eichel told the media he has a lot of thinking to do. Reinhart right now has no interest in staying.
If Adams makes the right deal to add to a core that he and Don Granato are clearly excited about, then, and only then, can this Sabres team stop being the must hated local professional sports franchise is the history of Buffalo.