Top 25 Under 25: #20 Adam Erne
The power forward and 2nd round draft pick from 2013 moves up a few spots after another strong season in the QMJHL with the Quebec Remparts.
While his third season in major junior was marred a bit by a wrist injury he recently had surgery to correct, Adam Erne moves up a few spots in this year's rankings after scoring 62 points in 48 games played with the Quebec Remparts while wearing an 'A'.
Here's how the panel ranked him:
|Kyle Alexander||John Fontana||Clare Austin||Mike Gallimore||Clark Brooks|
Last Year's Rank: 22
Erne followed up a season where he likely fell in the draft due to dreaded "off ice issues" -- (a near suspension by then-coach Patrick Roy) with a mix of good and bad. He's a straight-ahead, power-over-finesse player who plays physically and aggressively and outside of maybe Richard Panik, who has struggled to use his size effectively at the NHL level, is one of a very few Lightning prospects who has earned the 'power forward' label.
His scoring numbers stayed good this past season, as he totaled well over a point-per-game and was right at a goal every other game during the regular season. With the Tampa Bay farm system still stocked with a lot of undersized playmakers, a strong, physical winger with some finishing touch is a nice piece to have, theoretically complementing players like Vlad Namestnikov, Jonathan Drouin, and recently-drafted Brayden Point rather nicely. Erne's hands are likely underrated or at least overshadowed by the physical play that has become his calling card. He's not a player who has lucked into a point-per-game average in his three years of junior hockey.
Erne moves up two spots in our rankings, and he ascended Bolt Prospects' Supplemental Rankings in a similar fashion, moving from #9 a year ago up to #6 in their most recent edition of their prospect rankings:
Erne's got amazing burst and acceleration and fearlessly goes to the high traffic areas to score goals in tight with underrated skill. It's not at all difficult to imagine Erne becoming a big-time NHL goal scorer as the perfect compliment to all the other top-notch prospects in the team's system.
As always, their list is different based on their definition of a prospect, but the graduation of some players ahead coupled with another good-but-not-great season in the QMJHL saw Erne's stock tick upwards, if only slightly.
With players like Erne, who admittedly play on 'the edge', you're going to see some bad along with the good. While Roy didn't technically end up suspending Erne in his draft year, he has gotten himself into some trouble since we ranked him last year, including in September of 2013 for this hit on former St. Louis Blue Vladimir Sobotka in a preseason game:
That ended his brief stint with the NHL club at the start of last year's season, though there was no reasonable chance he was going to stick at the top level anyways. It wasn't a particularly vicious hit, as Sobotka fumbled the puck and put his head down just a second before contact, but it still targeted the head.
Erne followed that up with another questionable hit, this time of fellow Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin:
At the time, Drouin suffered a concussion (but recovered) and Erne accused Drouin of diving, contributing to his own injury, in a classic case of hitter blaming hit-ee. Erne avoided a suspension on the play.
Setting aside Erne's diving claim, if there was any bad blood between the two young forwards, it's gone now, as has been reported a few times, including by Raw Charge's own Clark Brooks:
Speaking of Drouin, if you were wondering if there might be any tension between him and fellow 2013 draftee Adam Erne after Drouin suffered a concussion as a result from an Erne hit last season, you can probably relax. Drouin and Erne were joking together with fans while signing autographs after completing their power skating drills in the morning.
Things weren't all rosy, unfortunately, as Erne was held out of skating drills at development camp:
Erne, the team's second-round pick in 2013, was held out of skating drills at last week's prospect development camp because of the wrist injury and flew to Cleveland for an examination at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday. After undergoing testing and evaluation, the surgery was recommended and will be performed by Dr. Tom Graham, who also performed the wrist surgery on goaltender Ben Bishop in May.
The extent of the injury and an exact time table for his recovery will not be determined until after the procedure is performed, though Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said the initial prognosis is Erne will need eight weeks unless more damage is discovered during the surgery.
That report, from Erik Erlendsson on July 9, suggests Erne should be healthy for training camp in September if all goes according to plan.
Erne turned 19 in April, so while he was able to get 8 games in as a black ace at the end of the AHL regular season this past year with the Syracuse Crunch, he's ineligible for the AHL as a full-timer until next year (like Jonathan Drouin). But with so many Lightning forwards on one-way contracts and very few that are still waiver-exempt, Erne sticking in the NHL this year is the longest of long shots. He'll almost certainly be returned to the QMJHL for one more season, where the Lightning will be looking for continued offensive output, a strong physical game, and perhaps a bit more discipline as well as a fully healed wrist.