After struggling to carve out a role for himself in the NHL, veteran winger Luke Adam is headed overseas. A second-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2008, Adam had undeniable toughness and was a strong presence along the boards and in front of the net. Unfortunately, he was unable to ever put it all together for a complete season of production at the top level. Adam debuted with Sabres at the age of 20, deemed big and strong enough to match up at a young age. In his first four seasons, split each year between Buffalo and their AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates and then Rochester Americans, Adam had just 26 points and was -11 in 84 games at the NHL level. He only managed to score a point apiece in limited time in his last two seasons with the Sabres. Meanwhile, his numbers in Portland and Rochester failed to impress as well. He recorded 161 points in 210 games (62 in 57 in his first season), never once leading the team in scoring and seeing decreasing returns each year. Disappointed in the production and lack of development out of their former high pick, Buffalo traded Adam to Columbus in a mid-season deal in 2014-15. He played in just three games with the Blue Jackets, but failed to score and played just over six minutes per game. He spent most of the season with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons, putting up just marginal numbers. Columbus flipped Adam to the New York Rangers prior to last season, but he spent all season in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack. Adam tried one last shot at the NHL dream last month, attending Calgary Flames camp on a PTO, but failed to make the team. Having given North American pro hockey his best effort, Adam is now headed to Germany, where he has signed with Adler Mannheim of the DEL. However, like many who make the trip across the Atlantic, don’t be surprised if the 26-year-old Adam attempts an NHL comeback in the future.
In other minor moves:
- The New Jersey Devils signed 2016 second-round pick Nathan Bastian to an entry-level contract today. Although the big forward has already been sent back to the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads for the season, New Jersey now has him locked up should a recall be necessary. Bastian had a breakout season in 2015-16, putting his big frame to work and establishing himself as one of the top power forwards in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. A potential steal at #41 overall, the Devils signed Bastian to the maximum value, three-year ELC and look forward to his NHL debut in the near future.
- Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Kings have sent one of their up-and-coming young players back to junior, as defenseman Erik Cernak was assigned to the OHL’s Erie Otters after spending the first week of the season with the Kings. Although Cernak did not take the ice for L.A., the team though enough of him to keep him around in case the possibility arose. With goalie Jonathan Quick going down with injury, the team likely felt that this was not the right time to throw a a 19-year-old rookie into the fire. Cernak was a second-round pick of the Kings in 2015, and at 6’3″ and over 200 lbs. he has the size and strength to play at the highest level. However, Cernak’s skating and puck-moving don’t quite match his defensive ability and another season with the high-scoring Otters should help him work on his offensive game.
- The Philadelphia Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, signed former UMass hockey star Dennis Kravchenko to a minor league deal. In a move that may seem like just another minor league signing, the Phantoms actually added a player who outscored Bruins breakout star Frank Vatrano at UMass in 2014-15. The last Minuteman to leave early for a pro deal, Vatrano was a revelation last season, leading the AHL in goals with the Providence Bruins and providing an unexpected boost in Boston. Meanwhile, Kravchenko was having another strong season in Amherst, and will now look to replicate the success of his former teammate with Lehigh Valley in 2016-17. Don’t be surprised if Kravchenko ends up an official Flyer sooner rather than later.