BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 26: Luke Adam #72 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrates his goal against the Washington Capitals during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on November 26, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
Heading into the 2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres season, Luke Adam's emergence at the start of the season had some Sabres fans hoping that Adam may be part of the solution to the lack of quality centers the Sabres had on the roster. At the end of the season, the question is now whether Adam could crack the lineup as a center.
The Sabres have three centers on the current roster that are most likely slotted ahead of Adam in Derek Roy, Cody Hodgson, and Cody McCormick. Tyler Ennis found his niche playing as a center at the end of the season and should probably move over to center to start the 2012-13 season. That means unless there are some injuries, Adam is going to have to play his way onto the roster to start the season.
This is all contingent on the Sabres not moving Roy for someone else besides a center. If the Sabres decide to move Roy and go with another center, the depth chart doesn't change. If they exchange for a winger, that leaves Cody Hodgson as the team's number one center and Tyler Ennis and Luke Adam fighting for the second and third line center role with McCormick playing center on the checking 4th line.
The depth chart behind Adam isn't all that challenging at the moment. According to Hockey's Future, there are four listed centers in the pipeline. They are Daniel Catenacci, Kevin Sundher, Steven Shipley, and Phil Varone. Only Varone was playing with the Americans last season and is ranked 4th on the list with a ceiling of the possibility of being a second to third line forward.
Phil Varone was Rochester's leading point scorer last season with 52 points in 76 games and was rewarded with a three year entry level contract that is set to start next season. He was never called up to the Sabres due to the fact that he was just under an AHL contract. The Sabres signed Varone to an entry level deal late last season. Kevin Sundher will join the Americans after scoring 75 points (26 goals and 49 assists) in 58 games for the Victoria Royals and Brandon Wheat Kings. In the playoffs, Sundher had a goal and two assists in nine games.
Luke Adam needed to find his game again in Rochester at the end of this past season and he's going to need to find it rather quickly in the preseason of next season or he is going to be toiling back down in Rochester again to start the season. That's the way the roster stacks up at the moment.