When NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly handed over the card in the NHL Draft Lottery on Wednesday 2021 to show that the Sabers would have the first overall pick in the July draft, Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams appeared a happy guy, for a second. So, he looked like a guy who just put the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“It was a challenging season, a lot of adversity,” Adams said. “We were in the position we were in, and you certainly don’t want to be there, but that’s the reality … Having this fall our way, being in this position is, oh, it does some of the things that we spent this year feeling a little better about it. It’s a great opportunity for our franchise to improve. I feel like this is a big step, something we needed and [are] excited. “
“Challenging season” is an understatement. Things haven’t been going well in western New York for quite some time.
Sure, the Sabers have had good teams and Hall of Famers in the past, but recent memory erases that. Since the 1999 Stanley Cup final, they have only been to the playoffs six times. The last time the Sabers made the postseason was in 2011, when Buffalo lost in seven games to Philadelphia in the first round. Since then, the club has finished last in its division in five of the last 10 seasons.
This is the fifth time Taylor Hall’s most recent eligible team has won the draft lottery. He was also selected with a winning lottery selection. It was also traded once for a player who was selected with a winning lottery pick.
– Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) June 2, 2021
MORE: Complete NHL Draft Lottery Results
The Sabers found themselves at the bottom of the division again in 2021 despite adding Taylor Hall (who, by the way, may have done his lottery magic here once again) in the offseason. Hall scored just two goals and scored 19 points in 37 games before being sent on the trade deadline to the Bruins heading to the playoffs. Ralph Krueger was fired as head coach after 28 games and then, during his last media availability of the season, Jack Eichel voiced his displeasure.
“There has been a bit of a disconnect with the organization and myself. It has been difficult at times,” said Eichel, who missed the last 34 games of the regular season with a neck injury. “Right now, I think the most important thing for me is trying to be healthy and finding a way to be available to play hockey next year, wherever that may be.”
The 24-year-old captain was also upset with the team’s handling of his neck injury and said he preferred surgery, but the team did not.
“It doesn’t work like that. I wish … I’m under contract with this team, and they definitely have a lot of cards about what I can and can’t do,” he said.
Now Adams, who is just entering his second season as general manager, will have to make the right choice to satisfy not only his captain, who, if you read between the lines about “wherever he is,” potentially plans to ask for a trade, but also to the fans who have been disenfranchised with a club that has been a fire in the dump.
And this year’s draft is not easy. Last year, the Rangers selected first and had the easy task of taking Alexis Lafreniere, as the Canadian was known to be the best player for months, if not years.
But that is not the case now. There is no consensus boy number one. Defender Owen Power appears to be the most likely choice, but there are also his University of Michigan teammates Matthew Beniers and Kent Johnson. Other big names include Dylan Guenther, Brandt Clark, and Hughes’ third brother Luke.
“He can change the course of his franchise,” Adams said of the first pick. “It’s certainly energizing for the players in the room. I’m sure if you’ve asked our players, they’re excited right now. It’s energizing for our fan base. It’s energizing only for the people who work in this organization. “. who love this place so much. It’s all of the above, and it’s a big step, I will say, in the right direction where we are headed.
“We are excited to add the next great Buffalo Saber player to our franchise.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.