December 11, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
He's a big dude at 6-5, 205 and is still packing on muscle and growing into his frame.
He wears the captain's 'C' for his Swift Current Broncos, leads the team in scoring -- is in the Western Hockey League's top 10 -- with 33 goals and 37 assists in 53 games.
What, exactly, isn't there to like about Adam Lowry's game -- especially if you are the Winnipeg Jets, who selected him in the third round (67th overall) of the 2011 NHL entry draft?
"He's a real quality, character person," said Jets' GM Kevin Cheveldayoff this week. "He comes from a great hockey family (his dad Dave played 19 years in the NHL and is the head coach of the WHL's Victoria Royals) and is well in tune to the ups and downs of what hockey is all about. He's very level-headed and grounded person.
"A friend of mine has a son who was playing with Swift Current at the start of the year as a 16-year-old, and I asked him what his son thought of Adam. He said he treats the young guys well, he's a leader on and off the ice. Those are exactly the kind of things we like to hear."
But there's more, much more, to Lowry. The left-winger is coming off a serious hand injury that limited his numbers last season to 12 goals and 37 points in 36 games. The injury required surgery that left him with a permanent screw in the scaphoid of his left wrist.
Asked what the tell-tale signs were that he had recovered fully this season, Lowry offered up an answer that speaks to another layer of his game -- toughness. He recalled a preseason fight with Joel Edmundson of Moose Jaw (now with Kamloops) and realizing after the scrap he could trust his wrist to hold up. "When it had been broken and I fought a few times, guys would get inside on me, the wrist would keep buckling and I wouldn't be able to hold guys out. But now it's healed and the doctors are really happy with it. So am I."
Lowry said if there was a player in the NHL he'd like to model his game after, it would be Ryan Clowe of the San Jose Sharks. The book on Clowe? Big... respected... productive.
"He's a big guy who plays well at both ends of the rink and brings a little bit of everything," said Lowry of Clowe. "He's got some offensive spark and he's pretty tough as well."
Lowry speaks regularly with his father who, though busy leading the Royals, is always quick to offer tips on helping his son's game develop. What he's also learned from his old man is this: Don't be in a hurry to fast-forward through these critical years in his growth.
"He's a huge support," said Lowry. "It would be nice to get to the NHL as fast as possible. But he's told me you also have to take a step back and look at it from a development standpoint. It's better not to rush into things... allow your body to mature and develop so that you can have a long NHL career. I know I have to grow into my body to be a successful player at the next level.
"Each day I just feel like I'm getting better."
Again, what's not to like?
"He treats his teammates well and has embraced his role on his team," said Cheveldayoff. "To see the success on the ice as well and the confidence the coach has in him, those are things that Adam has earned."
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Checking in on the kids
A quick glance at how the Jet draft picks over the last two years are developing:
The 2012 draft class
The Jets' top pick from last June continues to gobble up big minutes as a freshman with the Wolverines after a World Junior Hockey Championship performance that was absolutely stellar. Voted the WJC's top defenceman, he returned to Michigan and is tied for fourth on the team in scoring (8G, 9A) and leads the squad in power-play points.
Don't base everything on Sutter's stats this season, because they are gruesome (11G, 8A, -14) and are down considerably from his 28-goal, 59-point campaign a year ago. He was drafted because of his grit and character -- the Sutter trademark, if you will. He's been better lately, he just recently had a six-game goal streak snapped and the Jets hope a long run into the spring -- the Blades are playing host to the Memorial Cup -- will help his game further mature.
His numbers still scream out sniper: 25 goals, 23 assists in 49 games. On pace for career-high totals and was named the CHL player of the week in late November.
Currently out with an undisclosed injury, Hellebuyck was posting outrageous numbers in his freshman season before getting hurt -- a 6-1 record, a 1.54 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. He was Hockey East's top goalie in December and the top rookie in January.
Olsen has got good size at 6-2, 195, is solid in the faceoff circle and has already posted career-high offensive totals with 26 goals and 22 assists in 50 games.
7/190GMichigan Tech Huskies
Third on the Huskies' depth chart, Phillips has made just one start this season. He has a 2.48 GAA, but seems buried behind senior Kevin Glenoe and fellow freshman Pheonix Copley.
2011 Draft class
A decision is looming on the Jets' top pick from 2011. He's played in four games with the big club, and is yet to register a point, while playing primarily right wing. The Jets can play him in five games, a sixth would mean a year of his contract would be gobbled up this season.
3/67LWSwift Current Broncos
Now seventh in the WHL in scoring with 33 goals and 37 assists in 53 games. He's healthy, playing big and wearing the captain's 'C.' What's not to like?
A sophomore with the Wolverines, Serville scored his first goal earlier this year and is one of only three plus players on the roster. The Jets still like his upside and will give him all the time he needs to mature.
Working on the Bulls' top line with Brendan Guance and Tyler Graovac, Brassard's totals are down this year -- he has nine goals and 11 assists after going 27-24 last year. But the Bulls are on a 7-2-0-1 run in their last 10 and hope to go deep in the playoffs.
6/157GRensselaer Polytech Engineers
Missed six games with a shoulder injury, but has been outstanding since taking over the Engineers' goaltending chores. Recorded his second consecutive shutout Saturday might in a win over Dartmouth, was the ECAC Hockey rookie of the week in mid-January and has a 6-2-2 rcord, 1.44 GAA and .944 save percentage.
Everybody fixates on the drop in his plus-minus total and here's why: he led the WHL at plus-45 last year, but is a -12 this season. But his role has changed with the Americans this year and he remains an excellent skater.
7/187DColorado College Tigers
Has been battling injury all season and in a 2-2 tie in Anchorage on Saturday, was again forced to leave the game early. One of two Jets' draft picks on the roster along with Winnipegger Peter Stoykewych, originally drafted by Atlanta.
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 4, 2013 C2