So in the wake of the first big night under the NHL microscope for Kevyn Adams, here's some simple, free advice for the Buffalo Sabres' new general manager.
Trade the pick.
Don't think about it. Don't hem and haw. Don't say anything. Just do it.
You've probably got 3 1/2 months to get this deal done. Spread the word around. You're open for business and this baby is in play. We don't even know when the NHL draft will actually be held. Take your time and get the offers from anyone who wants to listen.
The No. 8 pick in the draft doesn't help you right now. This organization can't wait until, say, the 2022-23 season for real contributions from this pick. This fanbase isn't interested in waiting that long. And we know that's not part of Jack Eichel's program either.
This team needs help. Especially down the middle. See what's out there for a No. 2 center. You wonder if Brandon Montour can sweeten the pot. You don't know who might be willing to deal until you put up that "For Sale" sign.
It would be quite a switch for the Sabres to do this. The intel is that they had no plans to trade the pick under Jason Botterill and friends.
Those guys loved the draft, were enthralled by the thought of another top-10 choice. And given their lack of urgency during seasons, whether it was making key trades or pushing away thoughts of firing Phil Housley, it's another sign Botterill thought he was safe.
A GM who is under the gun will make win-now moves. There's no question Botterill made some, and he notably had to be grimacing hard to give up a first-round pick for Montour 16 months ago.
But trading a pick this high just wasn't part of Botterill's agenda. Especially when he and assistants Randy Sexton and Steve Greeley were all signed through 2022. After three years, you had an idea of the kinds of things Botterill had on his agenda and this wasn't one of them.
One of the more fascinating subplots of the summer will be to see the kind of personality Adams develops as a GM. He probably doesn't know yet what type of moves he'll be able to make.
It had to be a bummer for Adams to learn right off the bat the Sabres had fallen to No. 8. But at least Ottawa and Detroit didn't sweep the top 3 picks. The Red Wings' horrible season ended in colossal disappointment as they only got No. 4. Ottawa's dreams of 1-2 were dashed, turning into Nos. 3 and 5.
Now the Sabres have to hold their breath and hope an Atlantic play-in loser – possibly Toronto, Florida or Montreal – doesn't get the chance to grab Alexis Lafreniere with the No. 1 pick when that lottery is held sometime in August.
The NHL Draft Lottery, also known as the Alexis Lafreniere Sweepstakes, will be held Friday night and there's a chance it could be a double disaster, in the eyes of the Sabres and the league as a whole.
Trading his initial No. 1 pick obviously carries risk for Adams. Guys drafted 7-10 can become standouts, even when it takes a few years. Here's a rundown of some names that were picked in those spots since 2010: Mark Scheifele, Sean Couturier, Mikko Rantanen, William Nylander, Nikolaj Ehlers, Quinn Hughes, Zach Werenski, Bo Horvat, Matt Dumba, Jacob Trouba, Dougie Hamilton.
Yeah, you'd take any one of them on the current Sabres roster. So it's a tough call advocating a deal when that's the kind of player you could be giving up.
Adams is in a tough spot. The organization is going "leaner" and we all know the euphemism. The new head of scouting was named Friday, and Jeremiah Crowe is an uninspiring pick on paper.
A former colleague of Adams at the Academy of Hockey, Crowe was an assistant coach at SUNY Buffalo State. He's got no NHL experience in any kind of managerial role and his career resume is far outstripped by deposed predecessor Ryan Jankowski, who came to Buffalo in 2017 after four years with Hockey Canada and 10 in NHL front offices that included a stint as an assistant GM with the New York Islanders.
Crowe, however, gets plaudits for his role as assistant director of player personnel with USA Hockey's National Development team, as he helped recruit multiple players into the program that morphed into last year's historic under-18 group. That one produced 17 draftees and eight first-rounders, including No. 1 overall choice Jack Hughes of New Jersey.
While Crowe may be woefully inexperienced for such a post, so is Adams. But if that's a sign of Crowe's eye for talent, the Sabres can watch him grow into the role.
And, after all, while suddenly going younger and cheaper in the front office isn't a great look and gets plenty of deserved sneers from the hockey establishment, it's not like this franchise has won anything in recent years anyway. I understand the defense for the try-it-a-different-way theory.