The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled winger Adam Erne from the Syracuse Crunch. Steve Yzerman has made moves in the past few days, sending Michael Bournival back to the Crunch, and now this one.
Originally drafted in the second round, 33rd overall of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Erne is in his third season of professional hockey. Erne spent most of the latter part of the 2016-17 season in the NHL with the Lightning posting three goals in 26 games played.
Over 150 games in the AHL, Erne has put up 41 goals and 47 assists for 88 points. So far this season, Erne has put up 12 goals and 14 assists in 41 games for the Crunch and is currently their fourth-leading goal scorer and seventh in points. Listed at 6’1” and 209 pounds, Erne is a left-handed power forward that can play on either wing. He brings some size and a heavier game to the bottom six for the Lightning.
Once viewed as a potential second-line power winger, Erne’s development has been a bit delayed in coming. After a slow start to this season, Erne came on strong in November and December to move back up the scoring ranks with Syracuse. When Ondrej Palat was injured, Erne and Matthew Peca were viewed as the most likely call-ups. Unfortunately, Erne missed his opportunity at that time while dealing with an injury that had him day-to-day. Peca earned the call-up instead along with Bournival.
Peca has had a strong impact on the third line since coming up to the Lightning with two goals and five points in seven games. This comes after only putting up a goal and an assist in ten games in 2016-17 with the Lightning. For Erne, he’ll be looking to have the same kind of impact in his third call-up to the NHL of his career. It’s unclear where he’ll slot in to the line-up, but could get some time on the fourth line.
Cedric Paquette has been on the outs with the coaching staff recently. The last couple of games the coaches have gone with seven defensemen, scratching Paquette while Ryan Callahan and Cory Conacher made up the fourth line with rotating centers. Conacher has been in and out of the line-up this season for the Lightning and it’s a possibility that he could be bumped again in favor of Erne, though Conacher moved up to the third line in practice yesterday. Vladislav Namestnikov moved back into his former spot on the first line, with Chris Kunitz moving back to the fourth line.
With the timing of his call-up, it would suggest that Erne is more likely than not to be in the line-up tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. We’ll also have to wait and see if there is potentially an injury in the forward corps that has yet to be announced that necessitated his call-up.
For Peca and Erne, these call-ups this season are very import for both players. They will each be waiver eligible starting at the beginning of next season and there is a distinct possibility that if placed on waivers they would be claimed by a team that could afford to give them some NHL time. They’ll both be battling for roster spots next training camp and strong showings in the NHL this season can give them a leg up on winning those roster spots.