On what is expected to be a busy Monday around the NHL with the deadline to submit rosters approaching at 5:00 pm ET today, Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams met with the media this morning to discuss, primarily, his new leadership group that features the club’s 20th captain, Kyle Okposo. Adams praised Okposo’s leadership and his relationship with teammates and echoed much of the same sentiment towards alternate captain Zemgus Girgensons. The GM also lauded defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, now a full-time alternate captain, for his development not only on the ice, but as a person in the locker room and his drive to get better.
Beyond the new leadership group, Adams touched on several other news and notes, including the status of several of the team’s young players like John-Jason Peterka, Jack Quinn, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. As to Peterka and Quinn, Adams seemed to indicate that both would be on the team’s opening night roster, saying the body of work the pair had put in with the AHL’s Rochester Americans last year shows that they are “ready to take the next step.” Adams continued, referring to the team’s entire young core, including names like Peyton Krebs and Mattias Samuelsson as well, that they will ultimately need to get more and more reps in to continue to develop at this level. On Luukkonen, Adams was impressed with his offseason and training camp efforts, but appeared to confirm the expected, that the goaltender would begin the season in Rochester with veterans Eric Comrie and Craig Anderson on the NHL roster. Seeing Luukkonen spend another year in the minors may not necessarily be exciting news for Sabres fans, however giving him regular starts should make a strong contribution to his overall development.
- Also from Adams’ availability, when discussing his new leadership group, he touched on the contractual future of captain Kyle Okposo, who is in the last year of a seven-year, $42MM deal, saying the team had yet to discuss an extension with their veteran. That news, combined with some of the objective disappointment on both sides over the life of the contract, might seem to point to a parting of ways at the end of this year, however given the fact that the team named him their captain with just one year left on his contract, with other cornerstone options available, indicates that there is a chance the winger could be back. Any extension with Okposo surely won’t match his current deal, but if he can repeat on his impressive 21 goal, 45 point 2021-22 season, he should find his way to a relatively strong payday.
- On the injury front, goaltender Malcolm Subban, who left last night’s Rochester preseason game with an injury, could be out for some time, Adams said. The team is still awaiting a further update on Subban. Forward Riley Sheahan will begin the season on injured-reserve as well, the only player expected to be there on the opening night roster, says Adams.
Three rookies that could vie for the Calder this season. There’s a bubble of prospects in the pipeline that’ll keep the Sabres in the Calder spotlight for a few years.
The verdict is in: the Buffalo Sabres are on the ascent, and they’ll keep rising for years.
Goaltending is the key
Goaltending is a major key, no doubt. It is not inconceivable that Comrie could start 41 games. And that he’s capable of good stats over that stretch. That means significant stabilization compared to last year.
There are several teams with better tenders, but I no longer am deeply envious of any team. And, the team has many assets if a move is warranted.
The D corp is another important factor and it cannot be overstated how much better they are now compared to a year ago.
I am not calling the Sabres a contender. I’m saying no one should sleep on them.
Buffalo still needs goaltending to get to a more competitive level.