Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres opened the on-ice portion of training camp on Thursday, but before the players took to the ice, general manager Kevyn Adams addressed the media.
2022 first-round pick Matt Savoie had an upper-body injury suffered in the final game of the 2023 Sabres Prospects Challenge. Adams says the medical tests came back as the best-scenario.
While Savoie is expected to miss some time in training camp, Adams says he has a chance to maybe get back before it’s over.
Both Sabres defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power have this season left on their current contracts. Around the NHL Combine this past June, Adams started talking to them and their representatives about extensions.
"I’ve explained to their camps and individually how important they are to this franchise, and how we feel about them," said Adams on Thursday. "We want them here long-term. They’ve clearly indicated back to me this is where they want to be, and they believe in this team and believe in the direction we’re headed. And that’s where we’re headed."
Adams says these contracts aren’t easy, and they need to make sure they’re right for both sides. Conversations have been positive and productive, as the general manager adds things have picked up since right before the Prospects Challenge.
"Over the last week, I’d say with both, the talks have been more intense and more frequent," he said. Even as recent as last night, I was on the phone with both their agents for a long time."
Adams has never had a problem continuing negotiations.
"I think if you look at my history, we did the Dylan Cozens extension last year during the season, we did Tage Thompson later in the summer, and I believe [Mattias] Samuelsson was right before the start of training camp last year. It says to you I’m open to anything."
Dahlin says what he can control is getting ready for the upcoming season, and the contract isn’t up to him.
"I have one more year left on my contract, and I’m not worried," said Dahlin following Thursday's opening practice of training camp.
The Sabres are going to camp with two very young goaltenders with limited NHL experience. Adams says it’s his belief that makes him feel good about this situation at-hand.
"I truly believe we’re in a position of strength there," he said. "If you go and look in the market and overpay in dollars or term, or cost acquisition and just because someone has more experience, I’m not sure they’re putting you in a better spot. We explored and looked into every [option], like we do at all positions, but when you boil it down, we believe in the people we have in that room. I think a guy like Devon Levi is incredibly mature, and we continue to see 'UPL's' [Ukko Pekka-Luukkonen] progress."
It's not common to see college goalies just jump right into the NHL, but Adams doesn’t care about that.
"I don’t put a lot of stock in what’s been traditionally done before. I believe in taking every situation, gathering all the information that you can, and looking at it logically and methodically," Adams said. "In terms with Devon, we would not have put him into the net last year if we didn’t believe that one, he was going to help us win hockey games, and two, it was going to be ultimately best for him in his development of his career. He showed no stage is too big for him."
Most around the NHL expect the Sabres to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, which would be the first time in 12 season. Adams is certainly OK with that.
"We have to embrace the expectations, because pressure is a privilege," Adams said. "These guys, with the work that they have done, have put themselves into position to win. What we have to do is embrace it. Don’t be afraid to use the words, but we have to focus on how we get better every day.
"We’re talented, and I think our window is open right now. Our goal is to be giving ourselves a chance every single year for a long time."
Sabres head coach Don Granato had Zach Benson on the right wing with Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner on Thursday. He says the 2023 first-round pick was very impressive, and he loved the way he meshed with the two veterans.
As for 2021 first-round pick Isak Rosen, he was skating on the right wing on Thursday with Cozens and JJ Peterka.
Meanwhile, Dahlin was paired with free agent acquisition Connor Clifton. Buffalo's other major free agent signee this offseason, Erik Johnson, was paired with Mattias Samuelsson.
In addition to the injury to Savoie, forward Viktor Neuchev is considered day-to-day, while defenseman Vsevolod Komarov is back skating and progressing. Komarov is still not a full participant in practice, at this time.