Detroit Red Wings: Adam Erne takes a step back after breakout season

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Detroit Red Wings are putting the finishing touches on their 2021-22 season. They may have fallen short of the playoffs, which did seem possible at one point, but there have been plenty of things to look back on.

The Detroit Red Wings got scoring from new sources, boosted the offense overall, and also saw some players regress over an entire season. One of Steve Yzerman’s “boys,” or at least someone he highly sought after from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Yzerman grabbed forward Adam Erne from his former team for a fourth-round pick; since then, Erne has pre-dominantly been a bottom-six forward who eats ice time. He has been kind of like another version of Darren Helm.

However, in 2020-21, Erne showed a very different version of himself, leaving people to think that Yzerman was a genius and found another diamond in the rough. The influx of scoring from the mainly bottom-six forward was a surprise.

Detroit Red Wings forward Adam Erne regressed in 2021-22.

Even though many thought that Erne had developed a new scoring touch, this was not the case. Throughout a shortened season in 2020-21, Erne was able to pot 11 goals and add nine assists for 20 total points on the season.

It was tied for a career-best and seemed like it was destined to be a career-best year for him if it were a full season. That being said, there was some hope for him coming into this season. Ultimately, he would show some regression, not living up to the level he was at in 2020-21, over a full sample size of a season.

Erne has played in 77 games during the 2021-22 season, where he has six goals and 12 assists for 18 total points. Looking ahead, the Red Wings will only have Erne around for one more season on his current contract.

I would not put it past Yzerman to end up giving Erne another cheap deal to keep him around for depth in the bottom-six. However, Erne’s $2.1 million annual cap hit is a bit much. Especially for him to be a 15-20 point ice time-eater in the bottom-six, $2.1 million is too much.

He’s taken a step back in performance this season, and even if he is kept around, the value he brings will continue to decrease. He’ll be another spot filler through the 2022-23 season. While I mentioned Yzerman possibly re-signing him, it’s certainly not the option I prefer from my armchair GM role.

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In all reality, though, Erne regressed in 2021-22, and he’s going to be back to the version of himself he was in his first season with the Red Wings.