Tanking for the first-overall pick has cursed the Buffalo Sabres, which landed them with second-overall. Sabres fans have seen great talent come and go because of Buffalo's player system, draft, destroy, tank. Players like; Nikita Zadorov, Brendan Lemieux, Tyler Myers, Ryan O'Reilly, Robin Lehner, Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, have found themselves in the Sabres organization at some point. The list seems to never end on the talent that's come through the team at the AHL and NHL level.
Draft, destroy, and tank is exactly what Buffalo did in the 2014-15 NHL season, totaling a record of 23 wins, and 59 losses. The player who led the Sabres in points that year was Tyler Ennis, tallying 46 points in 78 games that season. The curse started that season, the Sabres were already in a rebuild, they hogtied themselves and set themselves back 10 times that year. The 2015 NHL entry draft was the start of every bad decision that kicked the already struggling franchise in the rear. Since 2015, the Buffalo Sabres are on their fourth coach, and they may boost that number up if they keep losing. Current general manager Kevyn Adams was brought into arguably the toughest situation, he has to patiently wait for the team to slowly turn around. It's only a matter of time till they pull the plug with current head coach Ralph Krueger or trade their prized possession, Jack Eichel. Something has to break here, I highly doubt Eichel is gonna wait till the 2025-26 offseason to get out of Buffalo. Night in and night out, the Sabres are being tormented by the teams in the East winning the odd game. The Sabres have only played 20 games so far, but they've won only 6 and lost 14, try telling me right now Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall are happy with that.
The chain reaction of great draft picks, like Rasmus Dahlin, and Alexander Nylander has made a tiny impact, but nothing significant. Dahlin is easily a true, all-around defenceman, who has put up back-to-back 40-point seasons in Buffalo. Nylander was eventually traded for Henri Jokiharju, another stellar defenseman. It's difficult to think Buffalo has this talent, and they're still in the same spot as they were before. It's extremely frustrating for fans and ownership to see they haven't progressed with the additions of Eichel, Jokiharju, Dahlin, and now Taylor Hall.
After drafts, we look at free-agent/re-signings and trades. Let's tread lightly with the Kyle Okposo signing, 7 years - $42 million worth $6 million annually. Okposo was apart of the notoriously horrendous free-agency period that happened in 2016. Then came Jeff Skinner through a trade, receiving only Jeff Skinner from Carolina, Buffalo gave away; Cliff Pu, a 2019 2nd round pick, a 2020 3rd and 6th round pick. At the time, Skinner was making $5.725 million annually, unfortunately for Buffalo, that was the final year of that contract. On June 7th, 2019, it was then announced Buffalo had resigned Jeff Skinner to an 8-year, $72 million deal worth $9 million annually. Buffalo is hogtied in cap space, having to possibly reach a new deal with Taylor Hall, alongside Reinhart, Jokiharju, and Dahlin.
So the question is now, where does Kevyn Adams go from here? Trade rumors have popped up about Eichel possibly being traded, and even Taylor Hall being moved. Buffalo should deconstruct and go back to the drawing board, maybe even make plans around Dahlin being the franchise guy going forward. Kevyn Adams supposedly not taking any calls on Eichel currently, but as history foretells, even the greatest of the greats can be traded, look at Wayne Gretzky being traded. Would Buffalo trading Jack Eichel give the team a much-needed reset and break the curse? Could we see a Buffalo team that builds from scratch going forward? Time will only tell how the Sabres rebuild will play out.
Speaking of a rebuild, if the Sabres decided to trade Eichel, the offseason would be the best time to trade him. Teams would have more available cap space to consider taking on Eichel's $10 million cap hit. The floodgates have to break somewhere, and it should be a complete flush of management and ownership while keeping Kevyn Adams. Buffalo has a lot of major decisions to make, their current payroll has $33 million locked up in four players who've combined for 3 goals. Eichel, Skinner, Hall, and Okposo carry hefty cap hits for 3 combined goals.
It's probably best this team goes back to the drawing board, Kevyn Adams inherited the toughest job from past Buffalo Sabres GM's. Those were GM's that made a bed out of concrete that they refused to lie in, that bed now belongs to Kevyn Adams.