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Photo courtesy of Sabres.com

It's Time: Sabres Should Call Up Adam, McNabb



According to Buffalo Sabres' interim head coach Ted Nolan, everyone has a clean slate.

That noise you hear is the sound of Luke Adam jumping up and down for joy.
 
The Sabres' major shakeup couldn't have come at a better time for the former second-round draft pick, who just happens to be setting the American Hockey League on fire this season.

Adam has 13 goals in 15 games. Not points. Goals. He's put 50 shots on net (3.33 per game) and is plus-5 while often seeing tough defensive minutes.
 
In other words, he's back.

The last two seasons were tough for Adam. He was sent down to the AHL in 2012 after being one of the league's better rookies in the first half of the 2011-12 season. He was dragged through the mud by Lindy Ruff for his defensive game. And when he got back to the AHL he didn't produce. In 94 games, he only popped in 19 goals.
 
Adam's attitude was an issue. The 23-year-old forward was insistent he belonged in the NHL and that he should be a center. He's backed off that idea and resigned himself to playing wing and only talking about winning AHL games. On and off the record, teammates are saying he's a different guy.

“I see a lot of that fire that's returned in Luke,” Amerks captain Matt Ellis said earlier this season. “He's not thinking, he's just playing. He's a kid that has great instincts and the ability to be a game-changer. No one's path is the same. You see guys that end up on top without adversity and see guys that battle adversity.
 
Amerks' coach Chadd Cassidy needs to be given credit for his resurgence, too. The comeback trail didn't begin when the calender flipped to the 2013-14 NHL season. It actually began last year when Lindy Ruff was fired, the team sent its captain to Buffalo and Cassidy decided to put the onus on Adam to carry the team.

"We told him, 'Luke this is essentially your hockey team,'" Cassidy said last February. "This is your time to be the guy that leads us every night. For a young player that's a lot to take on, but to me he's shown a lot of signs that he's ready for it."
 
Regardless of his flip in attitude and production, there's still a faction of the fan base - and maybe even the remaining front office - that gave up on Adam awhile ago. Maybe they're right. But there's only one way to find out. That's to give him another chance in the NHL.
 
And he's 23, not 30. There are countless examples of players who have taken a few years to mature in the AHL and come up to make an impact. Colorado's P.A. Parenteau didn't get a shot until age 26 and has established himself as a quality NHL'er. Parenteau doesn't have the pedigree like Adam does - as a second-round pick, World Juniors Team Canada player and AHL Rookie of the Year.
 
Will it happen? It seems pretty possible. Rookie Johan Larsson has been a scratch the last two games and has only registered one assist in 17 games (though with quality possession stats). Larsson is 21 and could use time in the AHL to play top line minutes and power play time to hone his offensive game.
 
Plus Larsson is a part of the team long term. Adam is in the final year of his deal. It would be a poor decision to let him go without giving it one more try. Remember, Parenteau was let go by the Rangers.

--
 
The case for Brayden McNabb comes with far less dissension.
 
McNabb impressed Sabres' fans during a 20-game stint in 2011-12. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound defenseman. He was unimpressive at the beginning of last season, but came on strong and performed well enough to earn another call-up...except he suffered a knee injury at the end of the year.
 
So many have asked, what happened? The answer is: Nothing, really.
 
McNabb is a third-round draft pick. What that indicates is that if he's to become a quality NHL'er, he probably needs work. There were flaws that caused teams to shy away. Some of those flaws have been evident over his three pro seasons.

The 22-year-old D-man's skating still needs work, his physical play has been inconsistent and his decision making has been questionable. So in other words, normal stuff for a 6-foot-5, 22-year-old defenseman.
 
This season, McNabb has been very good. He's scored 12 points in 15 games and has shown improvement in physical play. And, like Luke Adam, his coach has shown confidence using him as the No. 1 guy.

“For what Brayden is going to be in the National League, he has to play big minutes here,” Cassidy said after a recent shootout loss. “Play the offensive part, defensive part, power play and the PK because that's what I see him as at the next level. I think he's made some huge strides for us in being to handle those minutes better.”
 
McNabb isn't a finished product, but he is much, much closer to being one than rookie Nikita Zadorov, who could be sent back to juniors. It would be beneficial to see whether he's ready for the NHL or how far away his game is. And like Adam, he might be able to help the Sabres' struggling power play. McNabb has eight assists at 5-on-4 already this season.
 
The Sabres, of course, have not hired a general manager yet, so this stuff could take a little while to shake out. But it seems there's a good chance the Sabres will give both Adam and McNabb a shot. It makes sense - and maybe just maybe things that make sense will start happening now.

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Topics : Sports
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Locations : BuffaloColorado
People : Brayden McNabbChadd CassidyLindy RuffLuke AdamMatt EllisNikita ZadorovTed Nolan
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