Our first Hockey Prospect Watch was an update on Russian star Valeri Nichushkin. In our second installment Jeremy White profiles another former linemate of Mikhail Grigorenko - Adam Erne. He could be available at the 16th spot, and there’s a lot to like.
*Disclaimer - I’m sure the commenters will have a field day with a second consecutive prospect profile featuring a player to possibly put with Mikhail Grigorenko but...who cares, right?
Adam Erne has spent the last two seasons with the Quebec Remparts and spent a good stretch of that time on a line with Sabres forward Mikhail Grigorenko. If the Sabres are thinking about putting together a young core that can grow together (something Ron Rolston has said), then it’s entirely possible that they’re thinking about players that would have existing chemistry to build on.
If I were building a hockey team, it’s something I’d have in mind at all times. It goes far beyond thoughts of Grigorenko-Nichushkin or Grigorenko-Erne. How much would any team like MacKinnon AND Drouin? I’m even thinking of Alexander Barkov (top 4 prospect) with Joel Armia (Sabres 1st rounder of 2 years ago) just based on that fact that they’re both Fins. It's not everything, but it's something in this process.
If the Sabres still have big plans for Grigorenko it’d make some sense to keep an eye on Adam Erne.
“In Erne’s two seasons with the Remparts, Erne has established himself as one of top two way players in the QMJHL. In 68 games played this year, Erne registered 28 goals, 44 assists, for 72 points. Last year Erne put up 28 goals, 27 assists for 57 points in 64 games played as part terrific rookie trio, which included QMJHL Rookie of the Year Mikhail Grigorenko (BUF 12th overall, ’12) and fellow 2013 draft prospect Anthony Duclair. Duclair is No. 35 on Central Scouting’s midterm ranking, but I see Duclair as a top 20 draft pick.
The super trio combined for 88 goals and 206 points, ranking in the top five all-time for QMJHL rookie threesomes.”
- Tom Zulewski - Flyersfaithful.com
The really strange thing to consider is this: If the Sabres hadn’t kept Grigorenko and he’d gone back to Quebec to dominate, where would Erne’s draft stock be? Ranked the 13th best skater by NHL Central Scouting at midterm, he’s now ranked 26th. Had Erne been able to play into his second season in the QMJHL with Grigorenko we could be talking about a player that finishes out in the top 15, or top 10? Instead, he's likely a middle first round pick.
Erne is said to be a solid two-way player with something Sabres fans will want to hear - GRIT. At 17 years old, Erne is listed at 6’1’’ and 195 lbs.
Playing for Patrick Roy through a trying season there was a suspension that Erne earned from his coach, but it was never served.
Drawing comparisons to TJ Oshie and Max Pacioretty, Erne grades out as a potential top 6 winger, with upside to perhaps become a first line player. He’ll battle in every corner of the ice, with the offensive ability to warrant a first round pick.
Craig Button gives him a high "Ice Q" rating.
(Button compares him to Simon Gagne, and if there's one review of Erne's ability that will sell you on him, it's likely this one.)
While he's not the flashiest forward available, everything you see and hear would suggest he might be exactly the kind of player the Sabres would like to snag at 16.