After nearly a week of training camp, the Tampa Bay Lightning finally opened their preseason schedule Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. While they dug themselves an early 3-0 hole, there was never any sign of quitting–not too surprising considering the Bolts were among the league’s best in comeback wins last season.
What might raise some eyebrows, however, is the fact this team came back without guys like Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Drouin and Martin St. Louis. Those players are expected to see their first preseason action Thursday night versus the Nashville Predators in Tampa. Instead, it was Adam Erne who almost single-handedly lifted the Lightning to victory by notching two goals plus the game winner in a shootout.
Drafted 33rd overall in this past summer’s draft, Erne is entering his first NHL training camp. And from the looks of things, he’s playing to earn a spot on the Lightning. That became obvious when he went hard to the net late in the second period, getting a piece of fellow prospect Mark Barberio‘s shot and deflecting it past Blues goaltender Brian Elliott for the team’s first goal. It wasn’t highlight reel worthy, but did jump-start an offense that had been lethargic.
Erne possesses remarkable speed and a quick release, skills which were evident Wednesday night. He’s also great on the power play, something his two regulation goals can attest to.
Those are some eye-popping numbers for a kid that’s never played at the pro level before. Even so, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll crack the Lightning’s opening day roster because this team is loaded up front. So much so that a large majority of the forward prospects invited to camp will probably either end up in the AHL or juniors.
Regardless of what ends up happening, Erne is definitely a guy to keep an eye on throughout camp. Who knows? You could be watching the next St. Louis or maybe Cory Conacher.