Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
Prior to the Buffalo Sabres game at the Winnipeg Jets, the team announced that they'd traded LW Luke Adam to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Jerry D'Amigo.
Adam was taken in the second round (44th overall) of the 2008 draft. He was the third Sabres pick behind the two Tyler's--Myers (12th) and Ennis (26th.) With the Sabres lacking size and depth down the middle they plucked the 6'2" 203 lb. Adam from the St. John's Fog Devils of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Kris Baker of Sabresprospects.com echoed what the Sabres were seeing in the big center when they drafted him. "[Adam] goes hard at both ends, and was the leading scorer for St. John's this past season. With an Owen Nolan/Rick Nash type game, he's a responsible, soft-handed scorer who likes use his 6'2, 200-pound body to bang and create. His skating has prevented him from entering the elite tier of forwards."
Adam was AHL Rookie of the Year while with the Portland Pirates in 2011. He was the third Buffalo Sabres' prospect in a row to win the Award behind Nathan Gerbe (2009) and Ennis (2010.) In an odd twist, the Sabres affiliation with Portland lasted three seasons (2008-2011) and they had the rookie of the year in all three of them.
After a tantalizing nine goals and 10 assists through the first 27 games of the 2011-12 season for Buffalo, Adam took a major step back and ended up in Rochester. He played 52 of his 87 total NHL games that year, never touching NHL ice more than 12 games in one season (2013-14) after.
The skating issues really surfaced not only prevented him from entering "the elite tier of forwards," but it was also a huge hindrance at the NHL level as he never could catch up to the speed of the game.
Adam's last two contracts have been of the one-year/two-way variety indicating that the team really wasn't looking at him as part of the future, something Sabres GM Tim Murray discussed with the forward. "Tim's been honest with me and he said if guys passed me by (on the organizational depth chart), he'd give me an opportunity elsewhere," Adam said.
Sure enough, only two forwards have been called up this season--free agent Tim Schaller and 2012 first round pick (12th,) Mikhail Girgorenko. The Adam trade was announced the day after Grigorenko received his call-up.
D'Amigo was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009 (158th) and was traded to the Blue Jackets for Matt Frattin this past July. His trade to the Buffalo organization brings him back to upstate NY. The Binghamton, NY native played for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY before being drafted by Toronto.
Rochester Americans coach Chadd Cassidy knows D'Amigo pretty well having coached him while an assistant to Ron Rolston for the USA Hockey's National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2007-08 and '08-09.
Although D'Amigo won't put up the offensive numbers Adam did, he's a different type of player, one that the Sabres are laying a foundation with. "Jerry brings a tremendous work ethic to our organization," said GM, Murray, "and we know he’ll have an immediate impact with the Amerks."
In a tweet, Baker called D'Amigo "a good depth pickup for the organization. Has always made an impact - be it WJC or AHL playoffs. Still young and has more to prove."
This, undoubtedly, will be the first of many trades between now and the March 2, 2015 NHL Trade Deadline. During the next two months Murray will be looking at players on the team with expiring contracts like forwards Chris Stewart and Drew Stafford and defensemen Andre Benoit, Andrej Meszaros and Tyson Strachan. Also in the mix are pending UFA goalies Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth. And those are just the obvious.
Last night the Sabres had their first dud of a game in weeks as they dropped a 5-1 decision at Winnipeg, a place where they haven't won since 1993. They're off until they host the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. In the interim, the NHL's trade freeze goes into effect, beginning Friday, December 19.
Thirty-two games into the 2014-15 season, the Sabres sit in 24th place thanks to a 10-4 run. They're still well outside a playoff spot (six points, with three more games played than FLA) and nine points ahead of the last place Carolina Hurricanes (with two games in hand.)
They're in no-man's land right now, the same spot they were under the former regime. It's something Murray said could be fixed and he has stated in the past that the team wouldn't forsake the future for a futile run to ninth place.
The Adam trade may be the first one of many to come.