By Jourdon LaBarber for Sabres.com
Kevyn Adams lost sleep during the hours that separated the end of the NHL Draft's first round on Tuesday and his return to the Buffalo Sabres offices on Wednesday morning.
The Sabres general manager and his staff had attempted to make a deal Friday that would allow them to move up in the draft and select German forward John-Jason Peterka, but talks to that point had been fruitless.
"I think that's why I didn't sleep a lot last night," Adams said Wednesday following the conclusion of the draft. "I was thinking about Peterka. 'Ok, how could we figure out a way to possibly get this kid?'
"So, [we] got in the office this morning early, and we just started going to work on it, having a lot of different conversations."
WATCH: KEVYN ADAMS WITH BRIAN DUFF FOLLOWING DAY 2 OF NHL DRAFT
They found a way in the end. The Sabres acquired the 34th pick from San Jose in exchange for the 38th and 100th picks, a reasonable price for a player they felt could have gone earlier.
"Yeah, I think I was surprised," Adams said. "He's a good player. And there's a lot of good players. You notice, as every pick gets later in the draft, it becomes a group of players maybe teams are (thinking), 'Oh, they're so close, I like this guy a little more or that guy a little more.'
"But we felt strongly that if we were able to make the right move to move up and get him, then we were going to do it. Fortunately, it happened."
The Sabres were impressed with how Peterka handled himself as a 17-year-old amongst men last season while playing in the DEL, Germany's top pro league. They saw a competitive player who was able to assert himself physically and displayed a willingness and ability to get to the front of the net.
Peterka tallied 11 points (7+2) in 42 contests last season. He also led Germany with four goals in seven contests at the World Junior Championship.
The forward said that, after an initial disappointment about not being selected Tuesday, he felt honored that the Sabres had the confidence to move up and select him.
"I would say it's a pretty good feeling that they show you they trust in you and they really want you," he said. "I'm really, really excited."
Here are more takeaways from Adams' session with the media to end Day 2 of the draft, with the start of free agency less than 48 hours away.
The Sabres made five picks in total, four of which were forwards: Jack Quinn (1st round, 8th overall), Peterka (2nd round, 34th overall), Matteo Costantini (5th round, 131st overall), and Jakub Konecny (7th round, 216th overall). They also selected defenseman Albert Lyckasen in the seventh round. You can read about each pick in our Day 2 tracker.
Adams reiterated what director of scouting Jeremiah Crowe and director of analytics Jason Nightingale said during the lead up to the draft in that the Sabres selected players based on who they felt projected as the best available rather than by positional need.
"We're excited," Adams said. "I'm sure that every general manager and scouting staff in the NHL right now is pretty excited about the draft that they just had because you put a lot of work into it and then you're able to call the names that you're excited about. I mean, that's how we feel.
"I challenged the staff to really dig in and to do the work and to make sure that when we're about to announce the name that we feel that he's a Sabre. I feel we accomplished that."
Within that definition of what it means to be a Sabre, the team sought competitive players they felt would be driven to reach their potential. Adams lauded Quinn, a 52-goal scorer last season, for his self-awareness and his growth mindset.
Patrick Kaleta, the former Sabres draft pick who now serves as president of the Buffalo Junior Sabres, described fifth-round pick Costantini in the very same manner.
"That's what Buffalo is all about," Kaleta said. "It's about character."
The selections made were for players the Sabres felt had those intangibles while also meeting analytical thresholds and impressing scouts during extensive viewings.
"I've enjoyed every step of it, from how we were going to put the metrics around analyzing the players and the criteria that we were going to look for the players to meet, and then how you would then take those players and then go from there," Adams said.
"... I've learned a lot, I've enjoyed it. I will tell you our scouts have worked extremely hard."
The Sabres re-signed goaltender Jonas Johansson to a one-year contract during the draft, less than an hour before the deadline to tender qualifying offers to restricted free agents.
Adams was asked about the decision to not make a qualifying offer to forward Dominik Kahun, who joined the team in a trade from Pittsburgh last season.
"We continue to have dialogue with his agent and made it clear that we'd like to continue those conversations going over the next couple days, so hopefully we get to a deal that works," Adams said.
"I think he understands that we believe in him as a player and it was just a position where we weren't able to get to a spot where we both felt comfortable, but we're going to continue talking."
Kahun would have been eligible for arbitration had the team made a qualifying offer and not been able to negotiate a deal. The fiscal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the flat salary cap it created has forced teams around the league to consider how they allocate money.
The list of players who did not receive qualifying offers included Edmonton's Andreas Athanasiou, who scored 30 goals in 2018-19, and Ottawa's Anthony Duclair, who is coming off a career-high 23 goals.
"I do think it's interesting this offseason where the league is at," Adams said. "We want to make sure we're giving ourselves the flexibility because you may see a lot of players on the market based on the situation. That's part of our thought process, too.
"Let's make sure we're being flexible and we're giving ourselves a chance to see what's out there as we go into Friday."
Free agency opens Friday at 12 p.m. Adams said all positions are on the table when it comes to improving the roster.
"I think we need to improve our roster, period," he said. "We need to become a better team. So, as I've had conversations, I've not eliminated anything, because I say, 'Oh, we're fine here. We don't want to talk about this.'"
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