Tampa Bay Lightning forward Adam Erne has been suspended three preseason games for an illegal check on St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka, the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced Thursday. Erne appeared to target Sobotka's head on a first period check during Wednesday's preseason bout. You can check out the hit below in the video below, as well as an explanation from the league.
Erne is entering his first year in the NHL after being drafted in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft, so he earned some leniency from the league for not having a prior record of disciplinary action. It also may have helped that Sobotka did not suffer an apparent injury on the play, though he did leave the game and did not return.
Erne shined in his NHL debut, despite his misstep. He had two power play goals and another during a shootout to lift the Lightning, 4-3, over the Blues on Wednesday.
Erne spent two years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before joining the Lightning for his first NHL training camp. The 18-year-old was once committed to play for Boston University, but decided to play his way to the league through major juniors instead. He was the leading scorer for Quebec last season. Lightning blog Raw Charge was high on Erne after he was drafted by the team at No. 33 overall.
A fleet-footed power forward, Erne blows by, or more often, right through defenders as he drives to the net. Though he plays a hard-nosed game, he also has soft hands and a blistering shot that he's able to fire off quickly. Blending offensive skill and physical prowess, Erne's multi-faceted style means he could fill many roles at the pro level. Some of that will depend on his consistency as he continues to develop.