Kevyn Adams has to decide if Rasmus Dahlin and Sam Reinhart are part of the future for the Buffalo Sabres, and for how long.
The new Buffalo general manager, who was hired June 16, can give the No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks a new contract this offseason, if the Sabres believe they can be part of the foundation with center Jack Eichel.
“For me, our team is about everybody’s important,” Adams said Tuesday. “I don’t feel it’s a great idea ever to talk publicly about specific individuals and their contract status or what you’re going through. You named players who are very well-known and are very good players in the National Hockey League. But we’re looking at our roster overall and we’re working through each individual situation, but not in a vacuum, how the one individual fits into the bigger piece of all this. We’re going about it methodically. I’m not dodging the question, I’m just being honest that I believe everybody is a priority and that’s the way we have to think every day.”
Dahlin, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, has one season left on his entry-level contract and can sign an extension this offseason, like Eichel did prior to the final year of his entry-level deal after he was the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Dahlin scored 40 points (four goals, 36 assists) in 59 games this season, which was shortened due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, and as a rookie in 2018-19 scored 44 points (nine goals, 35 assists) in 82 games and finished third in voting for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
Dahlin, who turned 20 on April 13, is second in NHL history for points by teenage defenseman behind Phil Housley (132), who coached him as a rookie.
Reinhart, who was selected by Buffalo with the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, can become a restricted free agent after this season. The 24-year-old center scored at least 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) for a third consecutive season, and he has scored more than 20 goals in four of his five full NHL seasons.
Eichel, who led Buffalo in scoring for a fourth straight season with 78 points (36 goals, 42 assists) in 68 games, signed an eight-year, $80 million contract on Oct. 3, 2017. He was named captain of the Sabres one year later.
Buffalo hasn’t made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2010-11, the longest active streak in the NHL, and on May 29, Eichel said he was “getting frustrated with the way things are going.”
Adams, who grew up in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence, New York, said he knows how Eichel and the rest of the fan base is feeling.
“I’m in a unique position being from here and truly understanding our fan base and what this franchise means and the ups and downs and what people are feeling right now. I’m part of this community,” he said.
“You need to win the day, right? Like, that’s how I try to focus every day on, first of all, win the moments, right? Every moment that you’re in try to get better and better, and then win the day and then win the next day and do it again. … That’s how we want to move forward. I understand in this position there’s urgency, our fan base wants to see us succeed. So do I and so do all of us, and we need to be better. We need to put a better team on the ice, and I understand that. That’s what we’re doing right now, we’re working every day to win those moments that will hopefully translate across the board to on-ice success.”
Buffalo has the No. 8 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
“Our team right now has a lot of really good players,” Adams said. “What maybe hasn’t been exactly right is how they all fit together. I’m working on that, I’m thinking a lot about that, I’m talking to a lot of different people. I’m just trying to find out how we put that together, not just how the lineup looks on paper but then how they ultimately sync up together. I think if you watch the playoffs, you see chemistry within lines, within [defense] pairs, just that kind of natural flow that some of the top-end teams build throughout their lineups.”