Red Wings Player Grades: The Sneaky-Good Forwards

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MAY 01: Adam Erne #73 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on May 01, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MAY 01: Adam Erne #73 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on May 01, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

At the end of the season, most Detroit Red Wings fan excitement was directed towards Jakub Vrana’s excellent performance, and the impending draft lottery. However, two of Detroit’s forwards had sneaky-good seasons that should no be overlooked.

Adam Erne

2021 Statline

Games Played: 45

Goals: 11

Assists: 9

+/-: -1

Preseason Projection

Middle-six/Bottom-six forward

2021 Season in a Nutshell

After a less-than-stellar 2019-20 campaign, Adam Erne was inexplicably effecient with Detroit this year. He didn’t just finish third on the team in points (With 20), his 11 goals led the entire team. Because of his deployment on Detroit’s bottom lines, Erne was not sent out to score goals or drive offense- but he cashed in on nearly every chance he got this year. All this was done without top line minutes (Average time at ice was 13:55). He also illustrated his sneaky good shot throughout the year; Erne’s 2020-21 shooting percentage is the highest of his career at  15.5% (5 percent higher than his previous best).

Erne also did his fourth line duties well, as his +/- is one of the best on the team (For players that played over half the year, his -1 is third). His CF% was also solid, finishing at 45.7.

They Said It

"“Adam’s got good hands and he scored in juniors, scored in the American League. I know that’s a big reason Steve made the trade, because he believed there was some in him in terms of offense and that he could be a good 200-foot player that could provide offense. And that’s exactly what he’s doing right now.”"

-Jeff Blashill via MLive

Final Grade

What a rebound year for Adam Erne. He did all that you can ask a fourth liner to do, and more. This is one where the stats and eye test agree. Some of his goals seemed a bit lucky, but he did one thing that seemed to be a struggle for even the best of Detroit’s roster: finish on those chances. Adam Erne was not only Detroit’s best depth score. He was one of the best scorers on the team, period. Yes, it’s unlikely Erne will suddenly become and elite scorer and repeat this offensive output next year, but for now, fans should appreciate the fantastic year he provided for the Red Wings.<p> </p>. Forward. Detroit Red Wings. ADAM ERNE. A

Robby Fabbri

2021 Statline

Games Played: 30

Goals: 10

Assists: 8

+/-: 3

Preseason Projection

Top-six Forward

2021 Season in a Nutshell

Despite battling Covid-19 at the beginning of the season and injuries near the end, Ryan Fabbri proved that last year was not a flash in the pan. In just 30 games, Fabbri managed to nab 18 points, best for fifth on the team. The highlight of his offensive output came against the Stars, where his natural hat trick (Three consecutive goals) single-handedly powered Detroit to victory.

Fabbri seemed to mesh well with any line he was put on. While his corsi percentage was slightly below average at -.6, his 3 +/- tied for first in Detroit. This is actually pretty impressive, considering Fabbri played during most of Detroit’s rough stretches, and missed the run up the standings at the end of the year.

They Said It

"“From the very first day we got him, he showed us he can score on one shot … he brings a good edge and competes hard. So when Robby’s at his best he’s super competitive, and I think he’s done that all season.”"

-Jeff Blashill via the Detroit Free Press 

Final Grade

A-. It’s disappointing that fans weren’t able to see an entire season of Ryan Fabbri, as he likely would’ve challenged Adam Erne for the team lead in goals. But in the games he did participate in, Fabbri was consistently one of Detroit’s top-six skaters, no matter the line. While he isn’t one to drive the offense, he has a top-three shot in Detroit and is a danger from almost anywhere in the offensive zone.  If Fabbri stays this consistent on a yearly basis, the question needs to be asked: should he be considered as a member of Detroit’s core?. Forward. Detroit Red Wings. RYAN FABBRI

More. A closer look at Wings' forwards heading into the expansion draft. light