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Kevyn Adams has made a habit of taking late-night walks in his hometown Clarence, taking advantage of the warm Buffalo summer nights as the backdrop for business calls.

These mid-June weeks are what Adams describes as the busiest time of his year. He and the amateur scouting staff, led by newly promoted assistant general manager Jerry Forton, are in the final stages of refining their board for the NHL Draft, which will be held on June 28 and 29 in Las Vegas.

On the other side of the draft awaits the start of NHL free agency on July 1. And, adding a new wrinkle to what is traditionally a busy stretch of summer, Adams has made it clear to his fellow general managers that the Sabres are very much open to trading the 11th-overall pick – but only for the right deal.

“Every single day, on the phone from morning till night. This is the time of year where the phone’s next to me, even late it rings. … If you see me on the bike path in Clarence at 10 o'clock at night, then I'm working. And that's awesome. This is the time of year.”

Adams met with the media alongside Forton on Thursday to discuss a variety of offseason topics – the prospects of a trade, the Sabres’ internal free agents, and the draft among them.

Here are takeaways from the session.

Kevyn Adams and Jerry Forton address the media

1. The Sabres are open to trading the 11th pick

Adams made it a priority upon taking over as general manager in June 2020 to restock the organization’s prospect pool. In the ensuing four years, the Sabres have drafted 35 players – including seven in the first round.

Four of those players – Jack Quinn, JJ Peterka, Owen Power, and Zach Benson – are already NHL regulars. Several others are candidates to join them in the near future, including first-round forwards Jiri Kulich and Isak Rosen, both of whom have been among Rochester’s leading scorers the last two years.

With all of that future talent, the door is open for the Sabres to trade the 11th-overall pick for immediate help to the NHL roster.

“I've told every team in the league that we are wide open to considering moving Pick 11,” Adams said. “We're wide open to consider anything, to be honest with you – (trading) prospects, if we think it's going to help our team. We're having those conversations right now.

“I've talked to every team around us that we're open. Hey, we'd even look to move up. That's not always easy to do, but I think we have the assets to do that. We're very open to moving back, depending how the draft slides and where guys are going.

“So, all of that's on the table. And these conversations have been going on for a few weeks. They'll certainly pick up steam here in the next week as we get closer to Vegas.”

2. Forton sees value atop the draft

The 11th pick is a valuable trade asset in part because of the level of depth in the first round of this year’s draft – meaning the Sabres will be confident in their ability to draft a good player should they remain in that spot.

Forton said he expects there to be more variance than usual in terms of how teams rank players from the sixth to 15th spots on their boards, meaning a player the Sabres have ranked in the top 10 could be available when they’re on the clock.

“I think there’s a really wide spectrum of players and probably a lot of difference of opinions across the league on that group of players,” Forton said.

“So, in past drafts, you could kind of tick off the top 10 or 11 and maybe only one of those players would be available to you at 11, 12, 13. It wouldn’t shock me this year if there could be two or three players that we have in our top seven or eight that are available at 11.”

Last week, identified 14 players – seven forwards and seven defensemen – who could be options for the Sabres with the 11th pick.

3. Contract talks are ongoing with RFAs

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Henri Jokiharju, and Peyton Krebs are among the Sabres players scheduled to become restricted free agents this offseason. Adams said conversations with representatives for all three players will continue in Las Vegas next week.

“No concern (on contracts),” Adams said. “These are these are three important players.”

Adams said discussions regarding Luukkonen’s contract started in March. The 25-year-old had a career year in 2023-24, earning the most wins and shutouts in a single season by a Sabres goaltender since Ryan Miller.

“UPL made it very clear, he loves this team, loves the city, he wants to be here,” Adams said. “We're excited about him and we're going to work at it. We're [We continued] to have conversations last week, there'll be some more in Vegas, but, yeah, excited about how we move forward there.”

4. The Lindy effect

Adams was asked if he expects the hiring of Lindy Ruff, who ranks fifth in NHL history in coaching wins, to have an impact on the willingness of players to waive no-trade clauses in deals to Buffalo or sign with the Sabres via free agency.

“It has come up, yeah, a few times,” Adams said. “Lindy has a lot of credibility in this league and a lot of respect in this league from players, agents, other general managers, which he’s earned, and that’s a great thing for us. So, yeah, I obviously can’t give you specifics, but I have had conversations where that exact thing has come up.”

5. “We’re gonna look at every scenario”

Adams was asked about a media report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, who said “the word is definitely out there that a (Jeff) Skinner buyout is a possibility” during an appearance on "The Jeff Marek Show." Skinner has three years remaining on his contract with a salary of $9 million.

“I know there's rumors out there,” Adams said. “There are rumblings on different scenarios. What I can tell you is, from the day our season ended, after my conversations with (owner) Terry (Pegula) and kind of where we go from here, every single thing that we're doing this offseason we ask the question, ‘Does this help our team get better? Does this does this put us in a position to improve?’ And we've made a lot of decisions up to this point where we sit today with that in mind and we're gonna continue. So, nothing's off the table. We're going to talk about everything. We're gonna look at every scenario. But that's probably as far as I'd go on specifics right now.”

Adams was later asked about his conversations with Skinner, who had 24 goals and 46 points in 74 games last season.

“With Jeff in particular, at the end of the season, I thought there was true honesty back and forth from myself and him. I’ll leave specifics out, but I think it’s safe to say I have a lot of respect for Jeff. I mean, he’s clearly an elite offensive player in this league. He’s done it a long time. He’s scored a lot of goals in this league. I have a lot of respect for Newport Sports, which represents him, and how they handle themselves and the professionalism they show on a daily basis. So I’ll keep the conversations private, but I have certainly had dialogue and just kind of bigger than one thing, just kind of talking in general about his game and our team.”

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