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Erixon Arrival Promises Change To The Rangers

June 19, 2011, by

The Rangers are ‘counting on Erixon’ to make the team. These words, spoken by Rangers beat writer Steve Zipay on twitter, provided some significant insight on the newest member of the Rangers organisation. Numerous other writers and bloggers – not all from the Rangers community – congratulated the Rangers on the acquisition and many even went as far as to say that the Rangers have already had a good draft day because they will have ended up with two first round talents thanks to Erixon.

Assuming Erixon does make the team what do the Rangers have on their hands? Only 8 defensemen scored more points than Erixon in the SEL this past season. Many of those, including ex NHL players such as Janne Niinimaa and Josef Boumedienne, were veterans who can’t be considered to ‘still be developing’ like  20 year old Erixon.

Indeed, it appears only one ‘prospect’ scored more than Erixon and that was stud prospect David Rundblad. Erixon scored 24 points from the blue line in a league where only two players scored more than a point/game in the entire league (based on a minimum of 44 games played). The SEL is known as being a defensive, lower scoring league.

Erixon’s numbers are impressive whatever way you look at them. At just 20 years of age, listed at 6’3 and over 205lbs, the young Swede has the physical presence and skill to be a smart two way player for the Rangers for a long time. Two full years in the Swedish Elite League will have prepared him well for the NHL and that is without considering his substantial experience internationally.

So where does Erixon fit in?

Going back to Zipay’s words and the fact the Rangers expect him to make the club, one has to assume he’ll begin on the third pairing. The reason this is worth noting is because it will likely mean splitting up one of the top two pairs (Staal –Girardi, Sauer –McDonagh).

Why does Erixon’s arrival mean the splitting of one of the top two pairs?

Assuming Mike Del Zotto makes the Rangers out of camp (very plausible) it would be hard to imagine the Rangers putting Erixon on the third pair with MDZ. While Erixon acclimatizes to the NHL the Rangers will not want to put any extra pressure on Erixon, but especially not on Del Zotto as he tries to re-find his game. Giving Erixon a steady defensive partner like Mike Sauer or Dan Girardi would help him ease into his new role.

In addition to finding the right scenario for Erixon to develop in, upon graduation to NY Erixon probably becomes the Rangers second most skilled blue liner behind Del Zotto. Pairing them together would be a case of ‘putting all their eggs in one basket’. Change is coming to the New York blue line and not just in the arrival of Erixon, but because of the knock on effect he causes. Camp’s going to be interesting.


  1. Zen says:

    I understand your logic, but remember that Torts plays his top 2 d-pairs heavily and doesn’t give his bottom pair very much time at all. I can’t see him taking any of the present top 4 and giving them significantly less playing time, so I see Erixon either playing with MDZ, Gilroy (I hope not), or an affordable veteran signing.

    Some thought also has to be put into what defensive positions (right or left) these guys play. I don’t know that information, but that might have some impact.

    • RangerSmurf says:

      “I understand your logic, but remember that Torts plays his top 2 d-pairs heavily and doesn’t give his bottom pair very much time at all. ”

      That’s not true at all. It was true this year because he had players that couldn’t be trusted with big minutes. The year before, the even strength splits are fairly flat across the 3 pairs. If he has players he can trust, he’ll use them all.

      I believe Chris is right, Erixon’s going to spark change on the back end, and that’s a good thing. The real question though is whether the left-handedness of the defense will create problems. I know McDonagh spent some time on the right side with the Whale, so I believe Staal-Sauer, Erixon-Girardi, and Del Zotto-McDonagh is what will work best initially. That will cause Erixon to instantly get a top 4 role, which could be interesting, but not likely to be worse than MDZ in that same role.

      However, if Gilroy is re-signed, or another D is signed, then you may just see status quo, Staal-Girardi, McD-Sauer, and Erixon-Gilroy/vet

      • The Suit says:

        Spot on Smurfstar.

      • joey says:

        Of your original pairs that split up staal-girardi, i assume you would be counting on Staal-Sauer to take on the other teams big guns? I think that could work, but liked the top 4 as constituted last year. I think what may work best would be as follows:


        Of course where that leaves MDZ is anyones guess, but i feel all three of the pairings above would be strong pairings that could be trusted. I also think Kaberle and Jovo may be bargains, especially kaberle who i think has more left than people give him credit for.

        • Matt J says:

          We can’t give kaberle or jovo the contract they want. 5-6 million for a defenseman we don’t need. No way.

        • SCRANGERSFAN says:

          Are you kidding Joey? Kabarle and Jovanowsky are so old that if they were horses they would be put in the pasrure and used as stud fee only.Especially Jovanowski. If the Rangers sign him they also have to buy him a seing eye dog.We need to get younger and not going back signing over the hill players. It didn’t work before and it will not work in the future.

    • Redfish says:

      Your analyses is straightforward and reasonable, but entirely dependent upon the assumption Del Zotto makes the club out of training camp. That is a BIG assumption, when all tangible information suggests he will start with the Whale. The last thing the Rangers want to do to him now is bring him back up too early; best to let him dominate in the AHL and make it painfully obvious he is ready for the NHL again.

      Don’t be surprised to see the Rangers go with Erixon, and a UFA signing such as Anton Babchuk, to makeup the 3rd pair defense unit. MDZ is not NHL ready, physically or mentally. We all seem to forget that the last 40 games of his rookie season were a big struggle. I don’t think the coaches are unaware of this.

  2. Brian SCS says:

    I wouldn’t assume that MDZ and Erixon won’t play together, remember McDonagh and Sauer will only be in their 2nd season and McDonagh doesn’t even have a full season under his belt so the Rangers will be wary of expectations all around. I think it is more likely that Staal-Girardi get separated. They will want both McD and Sauer to pick up where they left off last season. Another thing to consider is that it isn’t nearly as unusual for a lefty to play the right side as it is for vice versa. Having 4 lefties in a six man rotation is not uncommon and shouldn’t pose a problem. But I do think that the fact that Gilroy plays the right side gives him a leg at making the team.

    Also, if I was a betting man, expect Slats to at least kick the tires on Anton Babchuk on July 1st, he is a big righty who can bring some offense. This will of course mean that at the very least Gilroy is nor re-signed.

  3. Leatherneck says:

    Eminger would not be a bad signing…pair him up with Erixon…no matter how the Rangers go it is a beautiful problem to have and a draft day deal is very plausible…still in the pipeline is Del Zotto, Valetenko, Pashin, Kundratek and McIlrath…I would not split up the Sauer and McDonagh pairing…”it aint broke, don’t fix it” So Eminger a Righty and a Veteran physical D-man would be a nice fit for Erixon or Staal if the preferance is for Girardi to play with Erixon

  4. Matt J says:

    I wouldn’t mind having staal girardi mdz Erixon mcdonagh sauer gilroy/valentenko as our d-men. That would be pretty nice actually. If the rangers end up getting rid of gilroy somehow, I would wanna see babchuck get a one or two year deal. That would e nice as there would not a ton of pressure on mdz or Erixon. I guess we could afford to do that now because brad Richards is outta the question it feels like.

  5. Chris says:

    There is no way the Rangers are going to go spend money on another defenseman. The rangers have a ton of young talent on the blue line, and need to spend whatever money available for another goal scorer. Also, dont count on Staal and Girardi getting split up anytime soon, Torts is not the type of coach who will split up his top pair to get erixson into the mix. No way we sign a free agent defenseman especially with kids like pashnin who will be in the NHL in the next few years….Its a youth movement and it starts on the blue line

    • scrangersfan says:

      Spot on Chris, I like your thinking. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  6. Baby baby says:

    Trade in work maybe Danny G on trade block I don’t like it either but makes everything work out a lot easier if he is not here