The 6-foot-1, 205-pound right winger is coming off a 28-goal, 55-point rookie campaign with the Patrick Roy-owned Quebec Remparts franchise. His 18 goals and 42 points in just 33 games at the mid-December mark placed him second on the club in scoring behind Buffalo Sabres first-rounder in 2012 Mikhail Grigorenko (50).
Described by one NHL scout as having “a bull in a china shop” mentality, Erne also has shown a polished skill set, raising his value to an all-time high as the calendar flips to 2013.
“He was solid in Quebec a year ago, but I thought his intensity was up and down,” the scout said. “You could see that he was still figuring it out and adjusting to the pace. This year, he’s been far more assertive, consistent and has really come on as a scorer. You look at how he played in the (Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament) and he picked it up from there and has really stepped it up in all facets of the game.”
To the uninitiated, Erne is built in the typical power forward mold. He has a powerful stride, relishes contact and going into the “dirty” areas of the ice, and he is willing to fight for position in front of the net. He has quick hands and the ability to finish, as evidenced by his 46 goals in 97 Quebec league games to date.
“On rushes I like to use my speed to take the puck wide or drive hard to the net,” said Erne. “I think I’m at my best in the corners where I can get to loose pucks or using my strength to set up out in the slot and get shots on the net.”
Although Erne is a nicely well-rounded player in his development, he does see room for improvement.
“I like to be a two-way player,” he said. “I know there’s things I can do to improve my defensive game, and I’m learning what I can from my coaches. I think my skating — my first few steps — is something I need to keep working on.”
Pure hypothetical - if the Sabres finished poorly enough and won the lottery, who would you select with the 1st pick? I think an argument can be made for either MacKinnon or Jones given our woes at both ends of the ice.
I say Seth Jones. There are quite a few forwards that intrigue me in this draft class so I'd be fine skipping over Mackinnon and waiting to see who slips into the 2nd round. Seth Jones is far and away the best defensive prospect in this draft and in the last few drafts.
I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who was thinking Jones. With our lack of scoring, I thought for sure I'd be the only one with my eye on Jones. I agree with one of the posters above; go with Jones and draft forwards in the 2nd round. We've had some solid second round forwards in the past, pominville and roy to name two.
I'm all for the best player available. They're young so it really depends on which one you think is going to be the better over his career. Will Jones become the number 1 defenseman that every team covets or is he a 1 - 2 tweener? Will MacKinnon turn into the next Tavares or is his ceiling lower? Can Drouin be the elite scoring winger?
Its not like the NFL where unless you're the Bills you draft and use free agency to make an immediate impact on the team, with hockey you're projecting how the kid will develop over the next 3-5yrs.
If it's close in ability, in my opinion you take the forward. Look at the list of defensemen picked #1 overall, it's not that impressive. The mark of elite/great defensemen can be difficult to measure. It's not a position that you can dominate on with ability alone (see Tyler Myers). It's such a mental game where it's about constant focus, discipline, and reading and reacting. Drafting a defender because they have immense physical talent would make me very nervous.
Also, I believe an elite forward can help a team more than one elite defender. You can coach team defense, you can "system" it up, you can't coach elite offensive talent, you can't draw up a system that will score you a ton of goals.
Mackinnon. Our defensive prospect pool is strong enough right now. Makinnon, Grigorenko, Girgensons sets us up down the middle for years to come. Similar to what Pittsburgh has albeit not quite the talent level. Crosby/Malkin/Suter