On the fourth trip of Luke Adam's Portland-to-Buffalo shuttle this season, the 20-year-old is watching and learning. And getting a nice Christmas gift from the Sabres.
Adam was a healthy scratch for the second straight game as the Sabres hosted Florida Thursday night. He's here simply for protection, to give the Sabres an extra forward as Tim Connolly remains out after nose surgery.
The Portland Pirates adjourned for the holidays after practice Monday and Adam was preparing to fly home to Newfoundland when he got the call to come back to Buffalo. No problem there: His AHL contract pays him $65,000 for the season while his NHL deal is for $687,500.
If you figure a 27-week season, Adam stands to make more than $25,000 prorated for the week -- or more than a third of his AHL salary for the season. And remember, this was a completely unexpected windfall.
"We'll see what I do there with that," he said with a laugh. "I guess that's going to pay for some Christmas gifts. But that's not what you're thinking about first. It's been nice for me to get this chance, a lot of great learning experiences."
Adam was set to drive to Boston, fly to Montreal and then fly to Saint Johns. Instead, he took the increasingly familiar flight from Portland to Philadelphia ("I've gotten pretty familiar with that airport," he said) and then came to Buffalo.
Adam has played 10 games here, posting a goal and an assist with a minus-3 rating. At Portland, he's tied for the team lead with 12 goals and has 22 points in 20 games.
All the trips back and forth might make it hard to forge a rhythm with either team but Adam said that's a necessary evil of his role at this point.
"It's not easy but it's not something you'd complain about when you're given the opportunity," he said. "This is my fourth time. Not many guys get that in their first season in the pros.
"I talked to my friends and family in the summer and I was thinking, 'Maybe I can get one game this year.' Well, I've been here over a month in total and 10 games. It's definitely unexpected and I never would have drawn it up like that so I'm just trying to take advantage."
Adam is skating long after practice with defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, on the comeback trail from a concussion, and fellow scratch Chris Butler.
"Just to be here, you learn a lot from watching guys in practice," he said. "And you try to pick up little things watching games upstairs. It's an easy game from up there [in the press box], easy to critique when you're watching. Real different. You see a lot more openings, see more systems."
Thursday's game was the final one for legendary Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret before he takes his holiday break to Florida. Jeanneret has cut back on his travel schedule in recent years.
The play-by-play for the games Monday and Tuesday in Calgary and Edmonton will be handled by Portland announcer Mark Jeanneret, son of the Sabres' main voice.
MSG intermission/studio host Kevin Sylvester will take over for the Jan. 1 home game against Boston as well as contests Jan. 4-8 at Colorado, San Jose and Phoenix.
Rick Jeanneret returns to his customary role Jan. 11 against Philadelphia.
The Panthers entered Thursday's contest having seen their opponents change goalies for four straight games. Florida knocked out starters Cam Ward of Carolina, Ryan Miller of Buffalo and Sergei Bobrovsky of Philadelphiah.
Then, in Wednesday's 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh, normal Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury relieved backup Brent Johnson for the third period after Johnson left with a groin injury.