What Would You Do Wednesday: Developing Lowry

In this installment of What Would You Do Wednesday, I want to
see how you, the readers, would handle the development of Adam Lowry. I hope to
get some of you to discuss what would be best for the rookie forward. Don’t
hold back and fight for what you believe in.

THE SCENARIO

2011 draft pick Adam Lowry, made the NHL starting roster in his
second full season of professional hockey. Last season Lowry played for
the St. Johns IceCaps in the American Hockey League putting up 17 goals and 16
assists in 64 games.

Lowry began the season playing left wing on the third line with
Mathieu Perreault centering and Michael Frolik on the right side. Lowry never
struggled playing on the wing but he wasn’t producing in anyway with his large
6’5 frame. Head Coach Paul Maurice made the decision to move Lowry to centre in
Winnipeg’s fifth game of the season. It wasn’t until the Jets next game,
against Carolina, that Adam registered his first career NHL point. Which was
the game-winning goal of a 3-1 victory.

Since then Lowry has failed to contribute to the Jets
offensively, being held pointless in seven straight games. But Lowry has been
decent in other aspects of the game, boasting a 43% faceoff percentage,
averaging a little over 12 minutes per game, and registering 19 shots in 13
games this season. Lowry is in the top 15 for faceoff percentage amongst
rookies and tied for fifth in shots.

Options for developing Lowry for Winnipeg could include:

·      Moving
Lowry back to the wing, allowing him to focus more on his offensive game.

·      Sending him
back down to the AHL, where he can play more substantial minutes in a top-6
role. Players that could be called up in his place include, Eric O’Dell, John
Albert or Carl Klingberg.

·      Continuing
the way the team is developing the young forward right now, allowing him to
play moderate minutes and focus on his all-around game, through almost a trial
by fire form of growth.

HOW IT WORKS

 Feel free to lets us know how you would develop a player like
Lowry, would you keep him up in the NHL, or send him down to the minors? Would
you keep him on a line with Perreault and Byfuglien? Why? If not, who would you
replace on his line? You tell us in What Would You Do Wednesday!

  • Kevin McCartney

    I think Lowry is a guy who should spend another season in the AHL. Big players typically need more time to grow into their bodies, and we know that he has a higher potential in his skating and his scoring. At the Christmas break last year, he had 5 points in 21 games and had been a healthy scratch (as well as injured) on a good AHL team. Things really picked up the last 40 games, but we’re talking about half an AHL season of positive contributions from this young man.

    He was the WHL MVP in his final junior season and has the potential to be a 7th man who plays multiple positions. That’s exceptional value for the draft pick. But take it from an older Oilers fan, just because a player CAN play in the NHL, doesn’t mean they should. Centres take a long time to develop their full game in today’s pro game, and 43% faceoffs might be good for a rookie but it’s not good for the team.

    As well, the team makes decisions before seeing what they have in a player. It seems to me like they’ve decided on Schiefele-Petan-Lowry as their future centres. Lowry has to be given the chance to develop a scoring touch at the pro level and climb as high as he can, rather than being put in that 3C role as a rookie and left there for half a decade.

    • X

      Given the minuscule number of face offs Lowry is going to take in a season against the number the team will have I don’t see how this is in any way an important element of the decision making process.

  • X

    Is there are realistic chance that Lowry is a top-6 forward? To me, no. If he is going to get 3rd line minutes in the NHL and earn them now he might as well be up in the NHL as far as his development goes. The kid and the 3rd line as a whole has looked really good the last 3 games.

    Is this what the Jets should be doing? Probably not, Eric O’Dell is likely a better 3C than Lowry and I am quite confident that Perrault is. The IceCaps could use his talents and the Jets could use the minor upgrade that O’Dell provides. Perhaps the only other factor is if Maurice sees O’Dell as a PK guy, if not then Lowry does offer something to the team to set him apart. Perhaps there is a longer term plan here to keep O’Dell down to get him cheap next year – he expires an RFA again – which may backfire if he runs to Europe like Gagnon did.

    I was not a huge fan at the start but the kid is growing on me, as long as he is not stuck with 4th line minutes I think the NHL is the right place for him.

  • Kevin McCartney

    It’s an example element of a centre’s game that was mentioned in the article by Andrew. I was just pointing out that he’s not helping the team at 43%.

    I think he does have a shot at being a top-6 player. I think his highest end potential is in the Martin Hanzal to David Backes spectrum somewhere. He might be more Rene Bourque, and worst case scenario is Magnus Paajarvi – a player with obvious physical skills who was just jerked around by a bad organization.

    Backes was a second round pick but a very late developer (played three years of college and half a season in the AHL, scored 50 points for the first time in his 3rd NHL season at 24 years old). Hanzal put up Lowry-esque numbers in his draft +2 season in the WHL and is now a hard minutes, two-way centre with health problems who scores at a 40 pts/season pace. Hanzal manages the ice with his size, Backes steamrolls people. I think Lowry will do the former more than the latter, but you never know.

    My point is just that almost no one plays 12 minutes a night in a primarily defensive role in the NHL at 21 years old and by 24 is scoring 45+ points. That might reveal the limitations of players who get put in that role so early, or it might speak to the known fact that the NHL is not where players build their offensive toolbox.

  • I’d say some time in the AHL would do him good. He’s only had one pro season and only half of it was very good, he still needs some time. He hasn’t been bad per say, but he’s an offensive player and he’s not getting the offensive development he needs right now.

  • X

    I am just not sure if I buy the advantages of the AHL development stuff entirely. To me if Lowry turns into a top-6 guy he can do it the Ladd did, he is delivering the goods in the NHL now and getting first-rate training and coaching. His background tells me that he is the kind of guy to take advantage of that sort of thing, he’s a real thinker.

    There is a long list of players with obvious skills and talent that can’t cut it in the NHL for reasons we never quite know about. Maybe culture, maybe conditioning, maybe deficits in ability that are not obvious to the eye. If Lowry were facing personal adversity (i.e. dealing with being a scratch or not getting along the the coach) from being in the NHL I would be more convinced that the AHL would do him some good. How better to learn how to play in the NHL than to skate out on a line with Perrault every game and, lately, absolutely destroy opposing 3rd lines and second-pairing D?