There is no question, that Luke Adam is either ready, or almost ready for the NHL. The former AHL Rookie of the Year was ceremoniously demoted to the AHL last year after some uninspired play in Blue and Gold, and lost his position as a center man in the AHL has his downward spiral continued.
The 22 year old pivot man for the Buffalo Sabres now has a second chance at regaining a spot as a true centerman for the organization.
The only problem is, Luke Adam has gone from the big man on campus for the Buffalo Sabres, to buried on the depth chart.
When the NHL and NHLPA decide they want to play hockey again, the abbreviated training camp is going to be a hotbed of center battles as Buffalo Sabres draft picks and prospects Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons are waiting to break out onto the NHL scene.
Girgensons is not a lock to play for the parent club – and the Buffalo Sabres will probably develop him in Rochester prior to bringing him to the big club. With just four points (1-3-4) for the Amerks so far this season, it appears that he needs some polishing before the Sabres can think about placing him on the big club. The Buffalo Sabres are not trying to rebuild, they are trying to refine. A rebuilding Sabres would have gotten Girgensons a spot on the roster.
Grigorenko is chomping at the bit to play in the NHL. He is a dominant force in the QMJHL with the Quebec Ramparts. Through 18 games, the centerman has 16 goals and 20 assists. That’s the Q, I wouldn’t expect him to play at that level when he gets to the NHL, but if he proves himself in the nine game tryout he will get at the start of the season, the Buffalo Sabres could be thinking about another Calder Trophy finalist, if not winner – to join former winners Gilbert Perreault, Tom Barrasso, and Tyler Myers.
So where does that leave Luke Adam? Moving back to center for the time being is a second tryout of sorts for him – but who should he be trying to impress? With the NHL lockout continuing – AHL arena’s are filled with NHL scouts to ensure the development of players who are NHL ready, and looking for that next UFA, RFA, or trade partner that is going to push their club in the direction of the Stanley Cup.
Luke Adam should be on the phone with his agent looking for the next plane out of Buffalo – and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I am all for the Buffalo Sabres system of sticking with a guy that they draft if he shows potential. But the old regime mentality of allowing a player to waste away in a system because we still believe in him is the wrong way to compete in the NHL. Adam should have a professional conversation with his employer about his future, sooner rather than later.
The last year of his entry level deal with an NHL club is quickly being cut, and his lack of production is hindering his ability to score a chance at a decent raise when it comes to this upcoming offseason where Adam becomes a restricted free agent.
If Adam shows any promise that he has a role in the Buffalo Sabres organization – keeping him around to have depth at a position that you have struggled with recently is a fantastic idea, that much is obvious. If you find yourself with an over abundance of centers that are NHL ready or NHL caliber, Luke Adam could be a great asset in a trade with a team in need of a center that might be willing to trade that piece that makes the Buffalo Sabres more of a contender.
The Buffalo Sabres have two options now, take a look at reinvented Luke Adam back at Center and love him, or list him and get something in return for the RFA.