Luke Adam at the crossroads
Amerks forward Luke Adam is the last of the Sabres restricted free agents still unsigned this summer.
The 24 yr. old who was drafted in the 2nd round (44th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft was qualified by the Sabres but has yet to accept the offer.
All of the RFA's GM Tim Murray looked to keep either signed with the club (Marcus Foligno, Chad Ruwhedel, Tyler Ennis) or accepted their qualifying offer (Matt Hackett.)
On the precipice of sticking with the NHL more than once, Adam's career shows just how difficult it can be for a prospect to make it to the NHL.
Before Adam's draft year, the Sabers had spent their early picks the previous two years on defensemen and goaltending. Then with the 12th pick in the 2008 draft they tabbed D, Tyler Myers.
The attention then turned to forwards. The diminutive Ennis, a quick and highly highly skilled center, was taken with the 26th pick in that draft followed by Adam, his polar opposite.
The book on Adam at the 2008 draft was that he used his big frame (6'2", 203 lbs.) to control the puck and become barely moveable in front of the net. He also had soft hands and a scoring touch.
Unfortunately, the knock on Adam was that he looked as if he was barely moving while heading up ice.
At the AHL-level his skating wasn't too much of a hindrance and he was able to transfer the skills he had in junior to the next level.
Adam won the Dudley "Red" Garrett Rookie of the Year honors in 2011 with the Portland Pirates scoring 29 goals and adding 33 assists in 57 games. He also got his feet wet with Buffalo that year playing in 19 games with the parent club recording a modest 3 goals and 1 assist.
Opportunity knocked for him in the summer of 2011 when Sabres C, Jochen Hecht suffered a concussion in training camp. Hecht would not return to the ice until late November.
Adam went from centering bottom-six wingers Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno on the third line at camp to starting the season centering Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville on the top line.
And he came out of the gate fast that season playing like a legitimate top-six, NHL center.
The Sabres kicked off the 2011-12 season with two games overseas, first in Helsinki, Finland the second in Berlin, Germany.
Adam potted two goals in Germany vs. the LA Kings and two games later he would add a goal and an assist at Pittsburgh.
Through his first 11 games that season he registered four goals and seven assists.
During the next 15 games he hit the back of the net five times before the bottom fell out. In his last 26 games he scored one goal.
Since then Adam has been given the opportunity to make his mark in the NHL only to falter. After six years in the Sabres system he still struggles with skating and the NHL game still seems to be too fast for him.
Odds are really stacked against him, even on a bottom-feeding team in transition like Buffalo.
It's a tough decision for Adam, he can stick with the Sabres organization knowing that he'll be in a leadership role on an up and coming Amerks team. Or he can give the NHL a shot with another organization.
Methinks the former would work best for all parties involved for this year.