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Adam And Kassian Do The I-90 Swap

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Good play giveth and bad play taketh away - roster spots, that is. Photo credit: AP

Spending Friday night in the pressbox following a 20 game scoreless streak, Luke Adam has been assigned to Rochester by Lindy Ruff. In his place, Zack Kassian has been recalled for tonight’s game versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. Fans have been calling for something to happen for a while and, while the team isn’t in the business of appeasing fans’ whims, the move should benefit both youngsters greatly.

Luke Adam looked lost out there for the Sabres, having his production and ice time plummet since the hot start to his rookie season. The bottom of the barrel took the shape of centering the fourth line until he sat out of his team’s 2-1 shootout win against the Stars. So after starting the season with 20 points in his first 32 games, he found himself pointless in the next 20. He would have made it to 21 if not for his being a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. Yesterday morning, much to no one’s surprise, Ruff said that demoting the young man to Rochester was something he’d been considering.

A number of theories were bandied about on the Sabres twittosphere, ranging from poor conditioning to crumbling under the pressure of being the top center to just losing confidence. Whatever the reason his production evaporated, he has a chance to find his groove again in the mellower confines of the Rochester Community War Memorial. The Amerks are arguably worse off at the center position than their parent club, so Adam will likely get top six minutes right off the bat. He’ll be facing lesser competition than he’s used to, and he’ll have a coach who specializes in development guiding his hand. He’ll also probably get a lot of power play time, giving him more work on his special teams play.

Taking the injured Cody McCormick’s place in the lineup on the fourth line instead of Adam is big, would-be bruiser Zack Kassian. Kassian is a player who, while offensively capable, has the temperament and size to play the grinder role much better than Adam would. Playing on a fourth line with a coach who demands intensity will help improve Kassian’s consistency and tempo, while giving him a chance to play against increased competition. He’ll likely be counted on for limited offensive contribution while playing on a line with Matt Ellis and Patrick Kaleta, unless coach Ruff tinkers with the lines like he’s wont to do and slides some players down to accommodate the new call-up.

While not really important given the position Ruff will probably have Kassian inhabiting, the big winger has been productive for Rochester where it matters – on the scoresheet. The former Windsor Spitfire scored twice during last night’s 9-4 firewagon win over the Texas Stars and has 15 goals and 26 points in 30 games in the AHL. Drafted for his talent and his temper, Kassian’s scoring has come naturally in the minors but his edge has seemed lacking. It could be an attempt to distance himself from his junior hockey reputation as a pug, but both the Amerks and Sabres need him to walk that line on a regular basis.

The circumstances of Adam and Kassian swapping positions are obvious, as are the probable circumstances of their return – the health of Cody McCormick. The Sabres’ resident heavyweight is officially listed day-to-day and his return would likely predicate the two rookies switching places again. There are, however, scenarios to the contrary. McCormick could return and send Kassian down to Rochester to play with Adam, which seems very unlikely. There’s also the possibility that McCormick could return and knock Matt Ellis out of the lineup, which also seems unlikely. It seems like the Sabres merely are waiting on McCormick getting healthy and/or Adam getting his groove back before doing anything.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Luke Adam will makes his Amerks debut tonight versus the San Antonio Rampage. Game is at 7:35PM at the War Memorial. Zack Kassian will be in the Sabres’ lineup versus the Lightning at First Niagara Center. Game is at 7PM and will be shown tonight on WGRZ with full pregame (at 6:30PM) and postgame shows.

Here is the Sabres’ press release:

BUFFALO, N.Y. (February 11, 2012) — Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier today announced that forward Zack Kassian has been recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

Kassian (6’3”, 228 lbs., 1/24/91) will join the Sabres for his third recall of the season. In his first full professional season, has appeared in 19 games for the Sabres, recording six points (3+3) and 13 penalty minutes. Kassian has played in 30 games for the Americans this season, tallying 26 points (15+11) and appearing in the 2012 AHL All-Star Game.

The Windsor, Ontario native was selected by Buffalo in the first round (13th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He played in three games during the 2010-11 season for the Portland Pirates as they advanced to the Division Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Sabres also announced that forward Luke Adam and defenseman TJ Brennan have both been loaned to Rochester.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 02/11/12 12:51 PM

    Great article! I hope it benefits both players.

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