Detroit — Adam Erne had a career-best season, and Sunday he was rewarded for it.
Erne, a restricted free agent, agreed to a two-year contact worth $4.2 million ($2.1 million salary cap hit) with the Red Wings.
By agreeing to the contract, the two sides avoided salary arbitration later this week.
The Wings also worked out a contracts with Tyler Bertuzzi (two years, $9.5 million/$4.75 million cap hit) and Jakub Vrana (three years, $15.75 million/$5.25 million cap hit) within the last several weeks, avoiding salary arbitration cases.
Erne, 26, led the Wings with 11 goals, and had nine assists, good for 20 points in 45 games. The 20 points tied Erne’s career-high set in 2018-19 with Tampa Bay over 65 games.
Erne’s three power-play goals tied for the Wings’ team lead. He led the Wings with 82 credited hits, and posted the Wings’ longest point streak of the season, spanning eight games (from April 1-15).
Erne only had five points during the 2019-20 season, his first with the Wings, after being obtained for a 2020 fourth-round draft pick.
General manager Steve Yzerman felt Erne’s progress and development was “encouraging” for the Wings’ organization.
” I feel good for Adam,” Yzerman said at his season-ending press conference. “I was there in Tampa when we drafted him, I have gotten to know him since he was 18 years of age. I have watched him work through his final years as a junior, go to the American Hockey League, follow me to Detroit, he is really driven. He really wants to be a good player in the NHL.
“He puts the time and work in and it was good for him to earn a bigger role on the team and to thrive in it. We have a real good player who is a different dimension for us. A big, thick kid who has good hands and can play in a lot of different situations. There is a lot more there. I really like Adam’s determination and drive.
“We all feel good for him, because I know he has put a lot of work into it and I know he has really wanted it. He has been waiting for his opportunity, he got a good opportunity and made the most of it.”
Erne wasn’t even sure how much of a role he’d have this season. Coach Jeff Blashill did not envision big things in the preseason.
But Erne earned an opportunity on the power play and produced offense, then flourished on a checking line with Luke Glendening and Darren Helm (both of whom have left via free agency).
“I just tried to stick with it and earn more opportunities,” Erne said during a season-ending Zoom call. “Luckily, I was able to do something with those opportunities when they came. For me personally, I was happy with my season.”
Erne became a piece the Wings wanted to keep as they rebuild, and it’s an organization which which Erne wanted to stay.
“We’re taking steps in the right direction, every practice, every game,” Erne said. “We put the work boots on and work hard in practice, work hard in the games and just get better. That’s what we’re trying to do.
“We know Steve is going to make moves he wants to make to make the team better. We’re a young team with some really good veteran presence in the room. As these young guys and everybody starts gaining confidence, you’re going to see us start to gain some traction like we did this season.”
The Wings’ last two restricted free agents to sign are defenseman Filip Hronek and forward Givani Smith. They do not have arbitration rights.