The Buffalo Sabres after finishing with the worst record in the NHL are facing an offseason of organizational upheaval, as they have yet to hire a new head coach, three of their core players appear to want out of town and the presumptive top pick in the NHL Draft is hinting at a return to college.
Sabres GM Kevyn Adams has reportedly interviewed former Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, former Washington, Anaheim, and Minnesota bench boss Bruce Boudreau, Swedish head coach Rikard Gronberg and others, but there are no signs that Buffalo is close to making a decision.
Things have not improved on the front between the Sabres and team captain Jack Eichel as to how to address the neck injury that ended his season. Both sides agreed to wait until late May before choosing a course of action, but there is still an impasse between Buffalo team doctors who want the center to rehabilitate the injury, and Eichel, who wants to address it with a surgical procedure.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated on WGR 55 Radio on Friday that the Sabres are ready to move on from the Eichel situation and will likely entertain offers for the 24-year-old during the offseason, but will have to play it the right way to maximize the return for the rare commodity of a top-line center on the trade market.
“People are saying Kevin (Adams) wants to trade him, you’ve got to trade (Eichel). Adams has got to convince them ‘not so fast’.” Friedman said. “(Adams) has to create the marketplace.”
There are also indications that the club will try to move both forward Sam Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen before next season, since both players expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of the club during their season-ending press availability and have one year until unrestricted free agency.
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The Sabres will be selecting first overall after winning the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery and most draft projections have University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power being the top pick. Buffalo has a group of young prospects on the blueline, including 2018 top pick Rasmus Dahlin, but may simply choose to draft the best available player.
What is Owen Power thinking about returning to Michigan or turning pro – NHL Now has the answer pic.twitter.com/KiHQuRZ2ZE— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) June 11, 2021
Power said in an interview with NHL Network that currently he is leaning towards returning to Michigan for his sophomore season, something that would be beneficial to his long term development, but could dissuade the Sabres from choosing him if they want to have their top pick play in the NHL right away.