-- Luke Adam
is happy to be in Germany with the Buffalo Sabres
, but it is not because he is enjoying a first-class vacation.
Adam could care less about the sights and sounds of Heidelberg, where the team is staying as it trains for Tuesday night's Compuware NHL Premiere match against local DEL powerhouse Adler Mannheim and this weekend's NHL Premiere games in Helsinki and Berlin. He cares only about leaving a sound impression on the Buffalo coaching staff.
With Jochen Hecht
likely out of the starting lineup for the start of the season after recurrence of concussion-related symptoms starting in training camp, Adam will likely open the season with the Sabres. How long he stays is solely up to the native of St. John's, Newfoundland.
Left Wing - BUF
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 4
SOG: 31 | +/-: -6
And, don't think for a second that he doesn't know that score.
"My goal all summer was to be on this trip," Adam told NHL.com after Monday's practice at SAP Arena. "This is where I wanted to be and this is what I worked toward all summer."
But, he also understands the trip is not the end-all and be-all for him. He wants more -- much more -- than the unsuccessful 19-game call-up he was granted this past season. In his first NHL action, he managed just 1 goal and 3 assists in those 19 games, which was the kiss of death for a player drafted for his offensive ability.
And, there is little question about Adam's skill with the puck. He was a natural scorer in junior, playing for St. John's and Montreal in the Quebec Major Junior League. And this past season with Portland in the American Hockey League, Adam put up 62 points in 57 games.
While he will not need numbers quite that gaudy to stay in the NHL this season, Adam knows he will have to produce on the offensive side of the puck. But, he knows that the coaches are more concerned with his ability to play in his own end, especially as a center.
"I think any time a player fails it's because either he is struggling in his own end or turned pucks over -- big mistakes that have cost his team games," Ruff told NHL.com. "I think any young player, if he hurts you, (it) makes it tough to get him into the lineup."
2011 COMPUWARE NHL PREMIERE
Rangers' Staal to sit out European opener
Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer
Rangers defenseman Marc Staal
still is suffering from concussion-related headaches, leading the club to leave him home from their season-opening trip to Europe. READ MORE ›
Adam admits to making his fair of those mistakes last season as his hockey learning curve accelerated more rapidly than he could handle at times. This time around, though, he says he is ready for the challenges unique to hockey at its highest level.
"I know what they want from me," Adam said. "I have to play a solid, two-way game, be sound in my own end and win my battles. I feel my game is at its best when I am skating and moving my feet and that is what I have to continue doing."
He has certainly been given a boost of confidence since arriving in Europe on Sunday morning. In each of the team's two practice sessions here, he has skated between established wingers Jason Pominville
and Thomas Vanek
. It is a line, when playing to potential, has the ability to generate an amazing amount of offensive opportunities.
"To play with players like Pominville and Vanek is so exciting," Adam said. "To know I have guys that talented on my wings gives me the confidence to do and try different things."
So far, Ruff has liked what he has seen.
"Offensively, he has done a real good job, but I think defensively he has done a real nice job as well," Ruff said. "In Luke's case, I think he has gotten better. The last few games, playing with Thomas and Jason, he has done a real nice job."
If it is a nice enough job to earn a full-time spot in the Sabres lineup, it will actually be a European vacation that he will never forget -- even if he doesn't spend much time here actually vacationing.