Red Wings Role Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2021-22 Detroit Red Wings season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the just-completed campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Detroit. Today, we feature forward Adam Erne
Position: Left Wing
2021-22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 79-6-13-19
Contract Status: One year remaining at $2.1M AAV
Adam Erne had a breakthrough season in 2020-21, netting 11 goals and adding eight assists in 45 games. Many expected the 2021-22 campaign to be one he built upon.
It was anything but that. Erne saw his fair share of frustration during the season, and couldn’t regain the scoring touch he showed a year prior. After receiving a raise of over $1M as a restricted free agent, Erne’s lack of production was one of many disappointments on the team.
Some of it though, may have been that the puck just didn’t bounce his way.
“Last year he earned his ice time and it went in for him,” former head coach Jeff Blashill said. “I don’t have a better explanation for that. That’s the reality sometimes.
“We need Adam to make sure – and he’s done a good job of this – he’s worked, he’s checked, so he can still help you win a hockey game without scoring.”
2021-2022 Detroit Red Wings Highlights
In the Red Wings 3-0 win over Carolina, Erne had the insurance goal that allowed Detroit some breathing room. Against Washington on October 27, Erne had the first Red Wings goal and the primary assist on the tying goal as Detroit would rally for a 3-2 victory.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 5, 2021
2021-22 Red Wings Lowlights
Erne had long stretches of scoreless hockey–starting after that two-point game against Washington. He went 12 games without finding the scoresheet, and had stretches of 20 and 24 games without locating the back of the net.
What Does His Detroit Future Hold?
Though he didn’t meet expectations, Erne is a solid and dependable forward for a team that needs some muscle up front. The caveat, of course, is that Erne is making just a hair over two million AAV, and with that comes the expectation that he’ll find his name on the scoresheet more.
According to Evolving-Hockey, Erne’s Individual Expected Goals (ixG) clocked in at 10.27. It lends credence to Blashill’s comment that Erne was often on the wrong side of puck luck. His Goals/60 cratered from 1.04 to 0.34, while he saw a 32 second dip in his average time-on-ice.
His lack of scoring certainly played into this, and as late as April 9th, Erne had a season low 10:22 of ice time.
Erne is entering the final year of his contract and will have his chance to show last season was an anomaly following 2020-21. With Yzerman sure to add more talent both on the blueline and amongst his forwards, Erne stands to benefit.
Though it will be crowded up front, Erne doesn’t seem like a forward Yzerman would flip to another team–yet.
There could still be upside and with a new coach, potential to surpass his goals and points totals. He might even get another look on the power play, though going scoreless on the man advantage for the season certainly doesn’t help his case.
Another down year might see Erne’s Red Wings career come to an end. Then again, maybe the puck luck might hop his way in 2022-23.