Draft Eligibles 2013: Is Quebec Remparts winger Adam Erne the next great Connecticut born player?

Image courtesy of hockeyjournal.com

Like many elite hockey players across North America, living away from home is nothing new. In fact it’s the norm. For New Haven, Connecticut native and Quebec Remparts winger Adam Erne, being on the road is something he has grown accustomed too. So how does a kid from Connecticut wind up playing in one of the premier junior hockey leagues in the world?

When Erne was 13 years old he moved from New England to California to play with the elite Los Angeles Kings Selects program. In fact, he actually billeted with the family of Tri-City Americans goalie Eric Comrie of the WHL when in California. Erne played two years in California and then went off to play for the Indiana Ice of the USHL.

Erne was the youngest player at the time in USHL at 15 years old and put up 10 goals and 18 points in 45 games with the Ice in the 2010-11 season. Not too shabby for a 15 year old kid who played on team that included current Miami of Ohio forward Sean Kuraly (SJ, 133rd overall, ’11), Cornell forward Brian Ferlin (BOS, 121st overall, ’11), and Providence College goalie Jon Gillies (CGY, 75th overall, ’12).

Erne was originally committed to play for Jack Parker and Boston University Terriers until Patrick Roy and the Quebec Remparts came into the picture. Erne told every QMJHL team that he wasn’t entering the draft and he was going to BU except for Quebec. Word leaked out that he was entering the draft and Erne was selected by the Halifax Mooseheads in the second round 22nd overall. If you recall that was the same time Halifax was pursuing the rights to acquire super prospect Nate MacKinnon.

The Mooseheads dealt Erne to Quebec in exchange for a second-round pick and two first-round picks, which gave Halifax five first-round choices over the next three years. MacKinnon’s rights were then traded to Halifax by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar for two players, first-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013, and Quebec’s first-round draft pick in 2013, previously acquired by Halifax. Erne ended up in Quebec, the place he originally wanted to go, and Halifax ended up with one of the most talked about prospects since Sidney Crosby.

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. In six playoff games this season with Quebec, Erne has 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points. The kid certainly knows how to produce. Pure offensive talent is what Erne will bring to any team that selects him. He has soft hands and powerful shot that can overwhelm goaltenders.  The kid just has a knack for getting to the net.

One underrated aspect about his game is his skating ability. He has a powerful skating stride in which he can blow by defenseman. Standing at 6’1 195 pounds, Erne is at his best when he plays with a physical edge. He’s strong along the boards and loves to throw open ice hits. The video below shows Erne’s hitting ability which was on display last Januray where he crushed Drummondville Voltigeurs forward Olivier Archambault (MTL, 108th overall, ’11) with a clean open ice hit.

Archambault would miss the rest of the 2011-12 season with a concussion. Erne plays with grit, power, soft hands with vision and pure sniping ability. To me, he projects as a second line winger in the NHL, and potentially a top winger at the next level if he puts on another 10-15 pounds or so.

Erne reminds me so much of Max Pacioretty and not because they are both from Connecticut. They are big, fast, and physical. Pacioretty has developed into premier player in the NHL and I have no reason to doubt Erne can follow suit.  Erne is No. 13 on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft, and NHL.com’s draft experts had him going 16th, 18th and 22nd in three mock drafts respectively. Erne will probably be available when the Flyers select. It would be wise for the Flyers brass to take a look at this kid who would fill an organizational depth need at winger.