Blue Shirts Add Defense Prospect Erixon to the Fold
The New York Rangers, taking advantage of the Calgary Flames inability to get their 2009 first-round draft pick signed ahead of today's 5 PM deadline to do so, acquired young defenseman Tim Erixon. In exchange, the Rangers shipped off F Roman Horak and both of their second-round draft choices this month.
Erixon, the son of former Ranger F Jan "the Shadow" Erixon, was rated as the Flames top prospect by both TSN (15th overall in the NHL) and the Hockey's Future website. He quickly reached an agreement with the Rangers on a three-year, entry-level contract.
If Calgary had not dealt Erixon and the deadline to sign him had passed, the Flames would have received a compensatory draft choice, #54 overall this month. The Rangers were able to give the Flames much more by adding another second-rounder and a prospect who was ranked as the Rangers' 14th best by Hockey's Future. Not a bad haul for Flames GM Jay Feaster given what he was looking at before the Rangers swooped in.
As far as the Rangers side, it looks like they've added another skilled puck-mover to their young corps of defenders. With Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Mike Sauer and Ryan McDonagh already contributing top four minutes on Manhattan, Michael Del Zotto expected to rebound next season and lat year's #1 Dylan McIlrath progressing, the Blue Shirts should some day soon be able to boast a blue line with five former first rounders, a second (Sauer) and one undrafted free agent (Dan Girard). That's a promising group.
Here's what Brad Gardner of HF Boards had to say about Erixon:
"The Swede is a mobile defenseman who plays with excellent hockey sense. The 6'2 Erixon has already shown he can be effective at the pro level in both ends of the rink, capable of playing the role of power play quarter back as well as a sound, defensive style.
After three years in the Elitserien, Erixon will likely head over to North America next year. The Flames' blue line will be a unit in transition with several veteran free agents, so an NHL debut at some point next season is not out of the question."
Jay Feaster indicated Erixon and his camp expressed concerns with Calgary's cap situation and recent track record of not necessarily playing young players. Erixon wants to play in the NHL right away and didn't feel his best chance to do so was with Calgary given that they have four expensive defenders under contract with NMC's. I'm sure the opportunity to play for the team his dad did and near to where he was born played a role too.
I like this move a lot for the Rangers. I am a believer you can't have too much depth at any position. If the Rangers end up with seven or eight legitimate NHL defensemen then not only can they withstand injuries better but they'd also have the depth necessary to make a trade to fill another hole.
This is the second trade involving former draft picks the Rangers have made. A couple weeks ago they sent 2009 second-rounder Ethan Werek to Phoenix for Swedish C Oscar Lindberg, the Coyotes' second-round choice in 2010.
According to some reports, Werek had annoyed the Ranger brass on a couple of occasions and they felt Lindberg was not a step down in overall abilities. Lindberg is a terrific face-off guy and is a playmaker. He's likely to stay in Sweden for another season before giving the North American game a try.
The Rangers also don't have to worry about signing Lindberg as he is a European player and the club will hold his rights indefinitely as it stands in the current CBA. The Rangers faced the same deadline Calgary did with Erixon so rather than lose him for nothing the dealt his rights. The club didn't want to sign him to an entry level deal so got what they could and saved the roster spot.
Next up we'll profile a few of the names that might be available to the Rangers at #15 in round one later this month.