For the third consecutive year, a member of the Portland Pirates has been named the American Hockey League’s top rookie.
Forward Luke Adam won the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award.
Nathan Gerbe won in 2009 and Tyler Ennis in 2010. Both forwards are now with the Buffalo Sabres.
“Three in a row is a nice reflection on our scouting staff and the quality players we’re bringing in,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. “I’m really happy for (Adam). It’s a heck of an honor and a great way to start your pro career.”
Despite spending nearly two months in the NHL on call-ups with the Sabres, Adam, a native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, has put up some big numbers for the Pirates.
In 54 games he has 28 goals, tops among AHL rookies.
He also ranks among the top three rookies in assists (32), points (60) and plus-minus rating (22).
Adam’s 11-game scoring streak was the longest of any AHL rookie since 2005. He also scored two or more goals or assists in 16 games.
“It’s obviously a huge honor, and probably the best individual award you can receive as a rookie, but you have to give a lot of credit to your teammates in an award like that,” Adam said.
“It is an individual award, but at the same time without the guys I have played with all year I wouldn’t have been able to put up the points I have, and I wouldn’t have had that kind of season, for sure.”
A second-round selection by Buffalo in the 2009 draft, Adam, 20, said there still is room for improvement in his game.
“I didn’t have too many expectations coming into the season and to be able to put together a season like I did, I feel my game has come a long way,” he said. “I still have a long way to go to get to the total potential I think I can get to.”
But Adam’s game has continued to evolve as the season has gone on.
“I feel I have learned a lot — playing away from the puck, playing in the defensive end, penalty killing, power play, everything,” he said. “You learn a lot of things coming every day to the rink, and a ton of credit goes to the coaching staff here.”
Adam’s evolution into a well-rounded player has been noticed.
“He’s matured in a lot of ways,” Dineen said. “He continues to do that. It’s a daily dedication to getting better.”
In 19 games with Buffalo, Adam had three goals and one assist.
“Just getting that experience of playing those games in the NHL gives you the confidence that you know you can do it,” he said.
The AHL award, first presented in 1947, is named for Dudley Garrett, a promising young hockey player who was killed during World War II while serving with the Royal Canadian Navy.
Earlier this week, Marc-Andre Gragnani of Portland, currently in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, was named the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman.
WINDHAM NATIVE Matt Duffy is one of the four defensemen who have joined the Pirates in the past week.
“It’s good to come here,” he said. “Everybody has a positive attitude and everybody wants to win, and I just want to be a part of it.”
A 2009 graduate of the University of Maine, Duffy had four goals and 10 assists in 56 games while dividing this season between the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings in Michigan and the Gwinnett Gladiators in Georgia.
While growing up, Duffy was a fan of the Pirates.
“The year they won the Calder Cup (in 1994) I used to come to the games. It’s awesome.”
NOTES: Dennis McCauley, who injured his right shoulder during a fight with Cam McIntyre of Worcester on Tuesday night, expects to be ready to play at the start of the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs, tentatively set for next Thursday night … Forward Travis Turnbull, who has been out since Nov. 26 while recovering from surgery on his right shoulder, hopes to suit up for the Pirates’ final game of the regular season Sunday at the Cumberland County Civic Center. With three games remaining in the regular season, the Pirates need to earn one point to capture their first Atlantic Division championship since 2006.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: