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Sabres see veteran additions as ‘important pieces of the puzzle’

Cody Eakin was a member of the inaugural Vegas Golden Knights team in 2017-18, a band of misfits that shocked the hockey world with their run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Eakin described that team as a group of selfless individuals who followed one rule: work hard and be a good person. He saw firsthand the type of lineup it takes to make a deep run in the playoffs.

“It takes a whole cohesive unit all working together, that kind of deep lineup,” Eakin said. “Just knowing that your third or fourth line can kind of alleviate some pressure, take some minutes off of the top two lines playing against each other.”

Kevyn Adams said upon being named general manager of the Buffalo Sabres in June that his goal was to supplement the roster with pieces that would allow the Sabres to match up with opponents up and down their lineup. Four months later, that vision is taking shape.

Through trades and free agency, Adams and his staff sought players they felt could fill specific roles within the lineup. The two moves that made headlines were the acquisition of Eric Staal (a likely No. 2 center behind Jack Eichel) and Taylor Hall (a top-six scoring winger).

But Adams and coach Ralph Krueger have spoken just as highly about the other additions, players they hope will add the sort of matchup depth they envision. That group includes a trio of veterans in Eakin, winger Tobias Rieder, and defenseman Matt Irwin.

“We feel strongly that those guys will be important pieces of the puzzle here moving forward,” Adams said.

If one thing was clear listening to the three veterans during their introductory sessions with the Buffalo media Wednesday, it was an awareness regarding the roles they were brought in to play.

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