Navigating a shallow prospect pool has been a chore for no fewer than two of Buffalo’s recent general managers. Both Kevyn Adams and Jason Botterill had to manage the situation and you could argue Tim Murray dealt with it as well. A cumulation of light drafts and below average development stripped the Sabres of almost any success outside the first round of the draft. They even have had their fair share of struggles in the first round. All of that led to a thin prospect pool in terms of quantity and quality.
The Sabres made 11 picks in the 2021 draft, the same number of selections over the two prior drafts combined. We’ll see how valuable the picks become down the line, but in the short term the draft was valuable in filling out Buffalo’s pipeline. That depth may be a bit of an illusion with most of Buffalo’s top prospects on the verge of NHL promotions, or already there. But there’s no question that the 2021 draft went a long way to refilling Buffalo’s prospect cupboard.
Despite their overall record, the early returns have been positive for Adams as his first two draft classes have a handful of bright spots. Thanks to some of the strong play from the likes of Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka, it felt appropriate to revisit the club’s prospect pool using the pyramid ranking style.
As a refresher, using the pyramid style over a strict numerical ranking lets you place players in tiers as opposed to having to choose one over the other. It’s especially useful in cases like this where ranking Jack Quinn over Peyton Krebs, for example, paints a different picture than simply putting them in the same overall group. Keep that in mind as you sift through the tiers below.
The Sabres have dropped three straight since returning from the holiday break. We discuss the debuts of Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs and JJ Peterka, offering thoughts on how each looked as they played their first games in blue and gold. We also touch on the roster issues that face the Sabres as they work through what appears to be a growing COVID outbreak in the locker room.
Peyton Krebs and JJ Peterka are poised to make their Sabres debuts as the team finally gets back to playing after an extended absence due to the league’s COVID influenced pause. We chat about how the pair will factor into the lineup along with another debutant: Alex Tuch. Beyond our excitement with Buffalo’s recent recalls, we also chat about the cancellation of the women’s U18 World Championships, how COVID has impacted the World Juniors and other topics from the past week in the NHL.
Back with another edition of the 2ITB Mailbag. Thanks to those who wrote in and if you want to participate in the next one, send me a tweet tagged with #2ITBmailbag.
@passoffpads – The year is 2025 and the Sabres are preparing for the Stanley Cup Finals (because even we can dream). Who is the goalie? Who is the captain? Who is the leading scorer? Who is the coach?
Let me just start by saying, I love your optimism. If the Sabres are a Cup contender in the 24-25 season, quite a few things will have needed to go right for them. The 2020 and 21 drafts will need to be paying dividends and the picks they’re set to make next June and in 2023 may have a say in that as well. I think Don Granato would still be the coach in this scenario, as the ramp up to Cup contender in that 24-25 season (or 25-26) would need to start in October of 2022. The likes of Owen Power, Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka will need to fill big roles and Granato will be the one welcoming them to the league next fall, so it’s only logical to conclude that the Sabres would be riding a wave that he helped start.
Kevyn Adams pulled out the final piece of his rebuild in dealing Jack Eichel to Vegas on Thursday. The move the entire hockey world had been waiting on since the spring was finally completed, ending a months-long saga once and for all.
The Sabres come away with Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a first round pick and a second in exchange for their wantaway star. It’s a package that on the heels of Thursday’s deal, feels mostly adequate, if not slightly underwhelming. Of course, you’re always going to want more when you’re trading a player of Eichel’ stature. That’s just par for the course.
Overall, I think Adams did well here. If a deal with Vegas was going to be made, Krebs was the piece they needed to get. Add in the first-round pick with fairly minimal protections (pick pushes to 2023 if Vegas is picking in the top 10) and two key futures that were believed to be q requirement for the deal were included. Tuch comes over on a team-friendly deal with plenty of term. At 25 he’s right in the window the Sabres should be looking for as they build out the roster. Maybe an additional mid-level prospect like Lucas Elvenes would have moved the needle a bit more. Or perhaps building a condition on to the 2023 second rounder that would make it a first based on Eichel reaching some basic games played benchmarks beefs this up a bit. But given the circumstances and the leverage each side had; I don’t think Adams deserves too much heat for this deal. At least in the short term.
The real value of this deal will play itself out in the long term for both sides. Particularly the Sabres. At best the first-round pick will be a year from contributing, if not longer. The second rounder will require more than that. Which is fine. The Sabres have wisely stockpiled picks and prospects over the last six months, an effort that has started to replenish a depleted pipeline. Krebs also represents a great deal of long-term value for the club. He’s only seen action in 13 NHL games between last spring and the start of this year. What he has to offer as an NHL player is still an untapped well and given his pedigree as a prospect, should be exciting for Sabres fans to track.
We went into emergency pod mode to offer up our reaction to the trade that sent Jack Eichel and a 2023 3rd round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a 2022 1st round pick and a 2023 2nd round pick. We offer up our thoughts on the quality of the return the Sabres got and what sort of players you can expect to see in Krebs and Tuch.