The Detroit Red Wings have agreed to terms on a two-year deal with Adam Erne, avoiding arbitration. The two sides had a hearing scheduled for August 21, but, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, will enter into a two-year contract that carries an average annual value of $2.1MM.
Erne, 26, is coming off the best offensive season of his career, scoring 11 goals and 20 points in just 45 games. The physical forward played a bigger role on the Red Wings, even getting some powerplay time, and rewarded the club with a pretty strong year all things considered. While he is likely never going to be a full-time top-six option on a contending team, Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman obviously sees him as a valuable piece to the puzzle at the moment.
The key here is that the deal buys out just one year of unrestricted free agency, continuing the Detroit model of not committing long-term deals to anyone in the current group. No one on the team is signed past the 2023-24 season, with only Jakub Vrana and Michael Rasmussen even inked that long. The Red Wings are maintaining cap flexibility as they build up the prospect base, and this latest deal for Erne is just another one that could potentially be traded down the line.
If the team fails to take a step forward by the 2023 trade deadline, they’ll have Erne, Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Pius Suter, and others to deal as rentals. If there is a big improvement by the young core and the team is contending for the playoffs, a player like Erne can be retained as a relatively inexpensive bottom-six option.