Any discussion of Steve Yzerman”s best acquisitions since becoming the Detroit Red Wings general manager rightfully starts with Moritz Seider, Jakub Vrana, Lucas Raymond and Robbie Fabbri.
But if you are looking for the best under-the-radar acquisitions, Adam Erne is in the conversation. He seemed like a short-term role player when Yzerman acquired him from Tampa Bay before the 2019-20 season. Now, he is part of the rebuild plan because he helps in a variety of ways.
“It was about being able to do something with the opportunity when you get it,” Erne said Monday in discussing his new two-year contract paying an average of $2.1 million per season.
What Erne did with his opportunity was score 11 goals in a 56-game season. Only 17.8% of NHL players scored 11 goals last season. He has also posted 224 hits in his first 101 games with the Red Wings. Coaches appreciate that he uses 212 pounds effectively. Erne isn’t timid about going to the front of the net. He is one of their few physical players.
Coach Jeff Blashill seems to appreciate Erne’s versatility, the ability to play on a scoring or checking line. If Michael Rasmussen centers the third line with Erne on his wing, the Red Wings will expect scoring from that line. Erne’s 11-goal season projects to close to 20 goals in an 82-game season.
“It felt good to have a year like (2020-21),” Erne said. “Hopefully, I can pick up where I left off.”
Some fans think the Red Wings overpaid Erne, but Nazem Kadri, Jamie Benn, Mattias Janmark Travis Konecny, and Kasperi Kapanen were among the 11-goal scorers and all of them are making a similar salary or much more than Erne.
Like every Red Wing, Erne is excited about the offseason acquisitions.
“I think every year that goes by, we are a young team getting older,” Erne said. “The guys they are bringing have experience. I think we are getting closer and closer, and I think we will be a good team next year.”