Most of the questions fielded by Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams and Director of Amateur Scouting Jerry Fort0n at their pre-draft media availability on Wednesday were regarding who they may select with the 13th overall pick in Nashville and the potential and outlook of young prospects such as Matthew Savoie and Jiri Kulich for next season, but again the subject of the club’s goaltending was front and center.
"We feel that we are in a really good spot right now. I like the way our team's coming together."
Seven takeaways from GM Kevyn Adams and director of amateur scouting Jerry Forton's press conference yesterday ⬇️
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) June 22, 2023
“Goaltending is an extremely important position. We think about it a lot in our office like we do all positions. I personally believe we’re in a position of strength. We feel that we have three NHL goaltenders, which is a great thing to have.” Adams said. “We’re open-minded whether we go into the season with three, it’s not an ideal situation.”
Heading into the summer, it is an open question whether the combo of rookie Devon Levi, 24-year-old Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, and veteran Eric Comrie will be good enough to break the club’s 12-year playoff drought or if Adams should either dip into the free agent or trade market for a veteran netminder. Luukkonen and Comrie would have to clear waivers to be sent to the American Hockey League with the idea of Levi playing in Rochester is highly unlikely.
Tandem Partner, Not Top-End Starter
While rumored scenarios such as trading for Vezina Trophy nominee Connor Hellebuyck seem more far-fetched since a trade for the 30-year-old All-Star would require a contract extension and would block Levi from becoming the Sabres starter down the line, the need to add a dependable tandem partner for the 21-year-old two-time Richter Award winner would greatly enhance the Sabres playoff chances.
“We’ll let it play itself out, but at the same point, I’m not doing my job if I’m not in on every conversation around the league and knowing what’s out there and what makes sense,” Adams said. “If there’s something we think will help us now and set us up for sustainable success, then we’ll look at it.”
One More Mock For The Road
With less than a week to go before the 32 NHL clubs start picking for real, everyone is taking their final cracks at their mock drafts, including The Athletic’s Corey Pronman. At 13th overall, Pronman predicts the Sabres will take big Russian defenseman Dmitri Simashev. The 18-year-old split time between the junior MHL and KHL with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and is considered one of the top-ranked blueliners in the ’23 Draft class along with Austrian David Reinbacher, and Swedes Axel Sandin-Pellikka and Tom Willander.
The mock projects all 224 picks and has Buffalo taking another defenseman, Theo Lindstein (Brynas – SHL) with Philadelphia’s second-rounder at #39 overall and Kelowna winger Andrew Cristall with the Sabres own second at #45.