Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – When the Buffalo Sabres signed Taylor Hall this past offseason, they gave him a no-movement clause, and the winger used it. In exchange for giving the Sabres a one-year deal, Hall got the no-movement in return.
General manager Kevyn Adams made it clear that by Sunday, the Boston Bruins were the only team that Hall would go to in a trade.
“That’s fair to say," the first-year general manager said during his conference call on Monday. "The message from Taylor and his agent was if there was a way, put him on a Stanley Cup contending team, so I went to work.”
Adams said things got really specific by Sunday.
“As we got to yesterday, it got to a point where Taylor felt that Boston was the team that he wanted to go to, so we focused our attention there.”
According to CapFriendly, the Bruins only have $29,769 of cap space left. That means they couldn’t take on any more than half of Hall’s $8 million salary, and they got to that point by trading Anders Bjork for Curtis Lazar.
Adams insists that the Sabres targeted Bjork and wanted him.
“We really like Anders Bjork," he said. "He’s got speed, he’s got compete and we see an offensive upside with a roll that could expand. So he was a guy that we identified. ... We got down to the wire, where we’re negotiating with one team, and I feel strongly in the situation we were in that we did the best that we could possibly do.”
Many around the league are saying that Boston was only offering a third round pick until they got pasted on Sunday, 8-1, by the Washington Capitals. That’s when Don Sweeney upped it to a second round pick.
The Sabres have been negotiating with goalie Linus Ullmark, trying to get a contract done before he becomes an unrestricted free agent this July.
“We want Linus to be a Buffalo Sabre, and we really feel good about where his game is at," Adams said of his No. 1 goalie. "We’ve had great conversations that have been ongoing, and we continue to talk right now. The priority for us is absolutely to sign Linus and he knows that.”
The team has shown definite improvement since Don Granato took over as interim head coach, and Adams has seen the same thing.
“I see more purpose in our game," Adams said. "We needed to raise our level in practice and we’ve had better tempo. We’ve had better compete, and that’s translated into a team that can skate and compete hard.”
With all those factors in mind, it only makes sense that Adams has Granato in the mix to be the full-time head coach after this season.
“For sure 'Donnie' [Don] Granato is a person that I absolutely think is in the mix for this, and should be.”
The team has been extremely secretive about Jack Eichel’s injury. Adams provided a little more information on Monday.
“He was recently looked at by the doctors and there was a slight improvement from where he was at," he said. "I don’t want to go too much further than that, but it does look like he still going to be out for a while.”
When Adams was pressed on the subject of his captain, he did say more.
“When we have the proper information to share, we’ll be completely transparent. As we move forward in the coming days, there will be more clarity, because in the next couple of days, we’ll have more conversations with the doctors to see what are the next steps and why, and then be transparent with that information.”
It seems like it’s taking a very long time for Adams to decide on an assistant general manager. Adams does seem to have a person he wants picked, but they’re still talking.
“I’ve been in very, very serious conversations in the last week with one potential candidate, and we’ll see where that one goes, and it’s a priority," Adams said. "It’s a huge hire, in terms of how we’re putting together the hockey department and structure, and we need to build the front office back up and need to hire more scouts. We need to make sure we’re putting the pieces in place.”
Adams said rosters are limited to four call ups from the American Hockey League, so not everybody is going to be able to get a game in from the Rochester Americans. However, he did mention defenseman Mattias Samuelsson and his improvement ever since training camp. Many feel he’s improved enough to be playing in the NHL now.
The Sabres are in Boston for a game on Tuesday. Hall is driving to Boston, so he won’t have to quarantine and will be in the Bruins' lineup against the Sabres.
Lazar said he’s over his lower-body injury, and is ready whenever the Bruins want to use him.
You can listen to Adams' entire conference call with the media below: