PuckAgency’s Tim Erixon selected 23rd overall by Calgary Flames
By Scott Cruikshank, Calgary Herald, June 26, 2009
Maybe Landon Ferraro, son of Ray.
Maybe Carter Ashton, son of Brent.
Maybe Dylan Olsen, son of Darryl.
Well, none of the above.
But the Flames didn’t deviate far from the family tree.
With their first-round selection at the National Hockey League draft Friday at the Bell Centre, the Flames bagged Tim Erixon, a Swedish defenceman who’s the son of Jan, a splendid defensive forward for the New York Rangers (1983-93).
But this day belonged to the boy.
“It’s a great feeling, for sure, an awesome feeling,” Erixon, via telephone, said from Montreal. “It’s a dream come true. A great organization. I’m very happy about it.”
Added the proud papa: “Can I brag? He’s a two-way defenceman with offensive skills. He can play on the power play, I would say, and on the penalty kill, too. Good size. He’s a pretty good skater for his size. Mobile. He has a good first pass.
“It was a tough night. It’s great to see him picked by a classy team, and I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing him play there.”
This past season, Erixon skated primarily in Swedish elite league, making 45 appearances and collecting seven points.
“One of the reasons he was able to play against men — and that’s the top men’s league — is because he’s smart,” said Flames director of scouting Tod Button. “He’s got some physical development to do. He doesn’t have to grow any more, he’s just got to get man strong. His ability to read the game, to get to the right spots ahead of time, is what allows him to play in the elite league at a young age.”
Jan had been drafted by the Rangers, 30th overall in 1981 (which just happens to be one selection before Mike Sands — currently director of amateur scouting for the Flames — was taken by the Minnesota North Stars).
Jan ended up making 556 appearances (many against the arch-rival — and current Flames employees — Duane and Brent Sutter in Long Island), collecting 216 points, for the Blueshirts.
Flames scout Tom Webster, once upon a time, coached Jan in New York.
And while pedigree always makes for intriguing storylines, it’s not something the scouts discount, either.
“It doesn’t make a defining difference,” said Button, “but you know what? He’s ahead of the game mentally, in how to prepare for games, and his maturity level . . . because of his dad. He can go to his dad for advice. (Bloodlines) aren’t going to make a bad player a good player, but it’s certainly going to help make a good player settle down and be more mature.”
Operating out of the 20 hole, the Flames boss did what he likes to do.
Trade down, splitting his pick into two.
Moments before his first-round holler, Sutter found a willing partner.
His old friend Lou Lamoriello, boss of the New Jersey Devils (and, until recently, employer of Brent Sutter).
After a brisk negotiation, the Flames’ original pick was parlayed into the 23rd and 84th selections. And that’s how Erixon, the sixth Swede taken on the night, got fitted for a Calgary sweater.
“We think he’s a well-rounded player,” said Button. “He can carry the puck a little bit. I wouldn’t say he’s a rusher, but if the ice is there, he’s got the ability to take it and make plays with it. We think his best asset is probably his hockey sense and his vision.
“The standard line (of success) is a top-four D . . . you don’t want to overblow guys or over-rate them, but we think he’s more than that. We think he’s a No. 2 or 3 down the road with his ability. The ability to play in any situation. That’s the biggest thing for us.”
Netting a Swede in the first round for the second time in three years — Mikael Backlund was plucked, 24th overall, in 2007 — the Flames feel they have added another reliable rearguard to their cupboard, which is brimming with top-notch defenders (such as John Negrin, T.J. Brodie, Keith Aulie).
“You have to be able to project those guys out, and I really believe that if there’s a tie between a defenceman and a forward, you take the defenceman,” Darryl Sutter told NHL Radio. “(Erixon) is a good defenceman, very stable, and the boy is pretty close to playing and he’s very well-prepared. You’re trying to get a good player in the first round always, but when you pick at the bottom of the first round, you know there’s time.
“There are a pile of good players this year, and we’re lucky to have lots of picks tomorrow. Hopefully it goes well for us.”
The draft resumes this morning, with the Flames holding seven selections.
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