Kilbride native tied for Rochester scoring lead, still hasn’t been called up by struggling Sabres
With the Buffalo Sabres’ acquiring two draft picks in the trade of Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders and rumours swirling that netminder and pending unrestricted free agent Ryan Miller will be dealt before the season is out, it’s clear the Buffalo Sabres are serious about rebuilding from the ground up.
The Vanek trade is the latest in a series of deals by Sabres general manager Darcy Regier this year. Last season, Regier traded longtime captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild for a pair of minor leaguers and two draft picks, and then sent defenceman Robyn Regehr to the Los Angeles Kings, with two more draft choices coming back. Those moves, and others, leave Buffalo with nine first- or second-round picks in the next two drafts.
What that means for Kilbride native Luke Adam’s future in the organization remains to be seen.
For the time being, he doesn’t seem to be in the plans for Sabres team that is off to a 2-11-1 start, the worst in franchise history and one that has left Buffalo last overall in the NHL
Despite a torrid start to his 2013-14 campaign with the Rochester Americans, the Sabres’ American Hockey League affiliate, Adam hasn’t received a phone call from Buffalo seeking his services. He’s tied for the team lead in points with 10 — putting him 10th in the league — and tops the Amerks with seven goals. He’s also been named the game’s first star on three occasions.
Still, not a sniff from Buffalo, which signed Adam to a one-year, two-way contract in July shortly after he became a restricted free agent.
But the 23-year-old from Kilbride says Sabres brass continue to tell him they haven’t given up on him.
“I’m more than grateful and thankful for the opportunities Buffalo has already given me. When you’ve played 75 NHL games in your first three years, it’s a pretty good opportunity. I’d love to get back there,” says Adam, a second-round pick of Buffalo in 2008.
“But if things don’t work out, I’ve got to continue to play well and produce at this level so other teams take notice and maybe someone else will give me a shot. The only way it’s going to happen is if I continue to produce and play well and some teams think I can help their organization.
“When you’re in the minors, you’re playing for all 30 NHL teams and trying to show well for all 30 GMs.”
In Rochester, coach Chadd Cassidy is giving Adam plenty of opportunities to do just that. Cassidy, who took over after Ron Rolston was promoted to the Sabres late last season, has Adam on the team’s top line with Phil Varone and veteran Mike Zigomanis.
“I truly believe he believes in my abilities and what I can bring to the team,” Adam says of his coach. “I am playing a lot of power play and five-on-five and even playing on the penalty kill.
“It’s the best I’ve felt since my first year pro.”
Adam is the first to admit that over the last two seasons, his focus wasn’t where it should have been, that he was too concerned with earning a roster spot with the Sabres.
“I was .... worrying about when I was going to get called up and what was going on, when realistically I had no control over that,” he says.
So Adam resolved that heading into the 2013-14 campaign he was going to focus solely on the things he can control.
Even after being cut by the Sabres a month ago and having to clear waivers, Adam insists his attitude remained the same.
“I didn’t dwell, I just came here and tried to bear down and help this team win. I’m focused on the Rochester Americans now more than anything else, even the Buffalo Sabres for that matter,” says Adam, who is in line to become a restricted free agent again next summer.
“I’m only focusing on my game here because if I’m not playing well, then there’s no opportunities at all.”
Adam and the Amerks (4-2-1-0) return to action Friday night against the Syracuse Crunch.