Late last week I had an opportunity to talk to Buffalo Sabres prospect Mark Adams. Adams was the Sabres fourth selection (5th round, 134 overall) after playing last season at Malden Catholic in his home state of Massachusetts. Adams is playing this season with the Chicago Steel in the United States Hockey League (USHL) before attending Providence College next year.
After the jump Mark answers questions about the experience of being drafted, playing in the USHL, his favorite team growing up and more.
Let's start by talking about the draft and the Buffalo Sabres. Take me through the draft process. Did you know you were going to be drafted or was it a surprise?
Over the last couple of months like May or June, I started to get a few calls and I thought I was going to be a late round pick, but I was pretty excited when I was drafted in the fifth. I didn't expect to go that high.
Were the Sabres a team on the radar, did you talk to them before the draft?
No, they didn't talk to me before hand, but I did get a text from my advisor saying he talked to them at the draft the night before.
Just a week or two after the draft you and the other Sabres prospects were together for a prospect camp at Niagara University. What was that experience like for you?
That was pretty special. It was fun but I was a bit lost at first. It was mostly junior Canadian kids and they seemed to know each other or at least know of each other. When I met the coaching staff and the management they were really nice and welcoming. Some of the older guys were nice and helped a lot too.
How have the Sabres worked since then, do they stay in contact with you or do they kind of let you do your own thing?
They give me phone calls and we have a blog/website where I have to log in and give updates on my games.
Unfortunately we don't get enough information about the Sabres prospects and have no idea what type of player you are. Try do describe yourself as a player so Sabres fans get an idea of what to expect.
I try to be an offensive guy but pretty sound defensively. I would say my strongest asset would be my skating and puck moving. This year Coach (Steve) Poapst has really helped me work on my defensive game. I'm getting a lot better at defensive zone coverage and playing the body around the boards. I would say my role on this team (Chicago Steel-USHL) is still as a puck moving defenseman and power play guy. I continue to improve on defense and penalty killing and I'm really happy about it.
That leads me directly into my next question. What was the biggest adjustment for you to jump from High School hockey to the United States Hockey League (USHL)?
I would say the biggest adjustment was the intensity of every player. Even in practice the kids go really hard and sometimes in high school the kids aren't like that. At first for me it was a little bit different, not so much the pace but engaging every drill, making sure you don't miss a pass or you don't leave a guy because it will end up as a goal.
You had to make adjustments off the ice as well. You are from Massachusetts and you are playing in Chicago. How was the experience of moving away from home?
It was a lot different being away from home, especially for my senior year. I had to leave all my friends, leave all the people I have been playing hockey with for 10 years and when I moved out here I didn't know anyone at all. The training is a lot different now. I take all my classes out here so I get to do a lot more training. I am on the ice two hours a day and then I have a personal trainer at night. I can really see improvement with being on the ice for two hours instead of going to school for eight hours and being on the ice for 45 minutes like it was in high school.
You are scheduled to play for Providence College next season and many kids are taking the NCAA route nowadays. Was attending college the only option or did you ever consider playing Canadian Major Junior?
A few teams expressed interest after I was drafted but I never really considered that. Where I'm from playing for Providence hockey is a very prestigious thing and it's also really good hockey. The coaching staff there is led by Tim Army who has coached in the NHL and coach Berard is a really great coach and a nice guy so I'm excited for the opportunity to go play there next year.
You grew up in Massachusetts which means you probably didn't grow up as a Sabres fan. Who was you your favorite team?
I was definitely not a Sabres fan growing up. I was Bruins fan and I still am Bruins fan so I don't know what to say.
It makes sense that you would be a Bruins fan after growing up in Massachusetts. It is probably before your time but the Sabres and Bruins had quite a rivalry dating back to the 80's. Do you have any memories of the Bruins playing the Sabres?
Not so much when I was growing up. I went to a bunch of games when I was a kid but during my sophomore and junior year I went to as many as I could and the Canadiens were our rival. I did have a chance to see the Sabres and Bruins play last year though.
It was probably just another game at the time but after being drafted by the Sabres I would guess that game means more now?
Yeah it's pretty cool. Three years ago I was a freshman playing JV hockey and two and a half years later I get the call from the draft and I never dreamed of it then but it's a dream come true.
Mark I want to wish you the best of luck over the next couple of seasons and hopefully we'll see you in a Sabres uniform in the next couple years.
Thanks. I hope so.