Part 18 of my Tampa Bay Lightning player evaluations has moved over to Overtime Heroics! If you missed my previous player evaluations, click on the names down below!
Nikita Kucherov. Steven Stamkos. Brayden Point. Victor Hedman. Ryan McDonagh. Anthony Cirelli. Yanni Gourde. Cedric Paquette. Erik Cernak. Mikhail Sergachev. JT Miller. Ondrej Palat. Ryan Callahan. Braydon Coburn. Dan Girardi. Mathieu Joseph. and Alex Killorn.
Now that we are all caught up, I can comfortably begin.
Today, we have a current Restricted Free Agent, who may or may not return for next season. Will the Lightning bring him back? By doing a deep dive on this player, I will determine just that. That player is Adam Erne.
Erne’s Basic Stats
Erne played 65 games for the Lightning last season, with 7 goals and 13 assists, for 20 points (all career highs). He averaged 10:33 time on ice per game, and at that time, started just 42.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone. That offensive starting percentage was a career-low. It was also the first time ever he started less than 50% of his shifts in the offensive zone.
Despite the high defensive deployment, he still posted a somewhat respectable Corsi-for% of 48.2. That also happens to be a career-low. However, possession isn’t Erne’s strong suit. The biggest asset to Erne’s game is his physical presence. The best example of that? He led the Lightning in hits with 159 last season.
He also notched a career-best takeaway to giveaway ratio of 16 to 8, which is a +8 differential, and the first positive takeaway to giveaway ratio of his career. Erne, for yet another career-high, posted a PDO of 103.6, which is way above the average of 100, which tells me he was very lucky last season when on the ice, and that could be a contributor to other career highs.
With Erne on the ice, the Lightning recorded an expected goals for of 23, and an expected goals against of 25, which is a -2 differential. That marked the first time in his career with a negative expected +/-.
Erne’s Advanced Analytics
Erne’s stats were up and down everywhere, posting career-highs and career-lows all over the place. His high PDO suggested that maybe he wouldn’t have posted the numbers he did, and may not have hit some career-highs, but that’s all assumption and not surefire, so I will leave that up to you readers to decide. But there’s a lot more beneath the surface of your everyday stats, and using my spider graphs, I can see where Erne truly stands out when he’s on the ice.
Erne (yellow), doesn’t stand out in any one area. However, he doesn’t contribute much off of his shots (goals, shot assists) which is shown on the graph (ShotContr60) as he is the worst of the bunch. He’s also the worst when it comes to getting assists off his shots by a fairly large margin (ShotAssists60), but he does generate a high volume of shots (Shots60), ranking second on the graph in that metric.
He ranks second in both entry metrics but isn’t stellar at either (PossEntry60, PossEntry%). He ranks last in the number of defensive zone exits he racks up, averaged over a 60-minute span (PossExit60), but ranks first in successful exits, relative to failed, or uncontrolled exits (PossExit%).
Erne’s Entries Deep Dive
Unfortunately, there is no visual present on Erne on CJ Turtoro’s Exit per 60 minutes visual, so instead, I will look at his entry metrics where he posted decent numbers. Using CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minutes visual, we will see what Erne does right, or wrong, when entering the offensive zone.
Erne ranks 9th on the roster when it comes to entering the offensive zone. He very rarely passes the puck to a teammate to enter the offensive zone, and seemingly would rather carry it in himself. However, if there’s no lane to pass or skate it into the offensive zone, he goes for the simple dump in.
Erne has the lowest amount of fails, tied with Tyler Johnson, among the players in the top 10, which, to me, is important. You don’t want a player who fails too often entering the offensive zone and turning the puck over, so to see that Erne keeps the fail count low is a good sign.
Because Erne didn’t have a visual on the Exit per 60 minutes graph from CJ Turtoro, I will use Sean Tierney’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) visual to see how valuable Erne was relative to his teammates.
Erne, highlighted above, may not be the most valuable, but he showed more value to the Lightning than some other, bigger, names. Those names include Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, and Anton Stralman. So while Erne is expendable, he is still more valuable to the team than some higher paid players.
Erne certainly isn’t a flashy player at all. Quite the opposite actually. He doesn’t drive much offense, and he does decent in the defensive end, but not great. He plays a physical style and hits a lot, showing that he can play the role of a grinder, but he also shows a few flashes of being a playmaker and other flashes of being a sniper.
I think that the problem with Erne and the fact that he doesn’t get a whole bunch of ice time is the fact that he hasn’t found his true identity and playing style. Once he can find that, I feel he could truly become a solid 3rd line winger, but until then, he fits in well as a flex 4th line winger, rotating in and out of the lineup every so often.
I think the Lightning should bring him back for 1 to 2 years and see if they can help find him that playing style that he so desperately needs to find, for about $1M per season, or less.
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All stats via Hockey-reference
Spider graphs created by Kyle Pereira, data gathered by CJ Turtoro