It may seem a bit premature to write a post about Tim Erixon, but many in Rangerland think that Erixon is destined to not only suit up for the Rangers in October, but play a significant role and be a stud defenseman. We here at BSB are the eternal optimists, but we are also realistic, and believe in tempering expectations. So let’s look at how Erixon fits into the Rangers, and what we can really expect from him.
The 20 year old defenseman just finished his second season with the Skelleftea HC of the Swedish Elite League. In those two years (93 games), Erixon netted 12 goals and 25 assists, to go with his 84 PIMs and a -5 rating. This past season was a definite improvement on his last, where he put together a line of 7-19-24 with 44 PIMs and a -3 rating. It wasn’t until the playoffs that Erixon really shined, where in 18 games he put up eight points (3-5-8) and 12 PIMs.
So with the stats out of the way, let’s realize two things about the SEL: it is notoriously low scoring, and it is played on an international sized rink. What exactly does that mean? Well, the notoriously low scoring SEL means defensemen hone in on their play in their own zone, which is the toughest part of the game to develop. But, they also have more time to handle the puck with the increased rink size.
Looking ahead to his North American career, Erixon is likely to be NHL ready, that part is a given. However, it is tough to really say he is going to be a stud right away. The kid is going to be good, but let’s be careful and not anoint him as the next Brian Leetch just yet. At 20 years old, he is still a kid. Kid’s struggle –for the most part– and are generally inconsistent. This especially holds true for youngsters learning their craft on a smaller rink.
Those expecting Erixon to put up 30 points may be extremely disappointed. With two solid lines of defense already established, Erixon will likely not get as much playing time as any of the top four, and this will effect his point production. Sure, he will see time on the powerplay, but his spot with the extra man is still up for grabs. The only given on the powerplay is that Brad Richards will anchor the top unit. The other three point spots are still up for grabs.
Realistically, it is fair expct Erixon to be generally solid in his end, but relatively inconsistent offensively. Less time to react on a smaller rink has a larger effect than most realize. That said, I don’t think 15-20 points is really out of the realm of possibility for Erixon, especially if he shows he belongs on the top powerplay unit with Richards. Then again, if he struggles a bit, he could fall in the 10-15 point range. Erixon should be judged on his ability to make the smart first pass and to play solidly in his own zone. If that works for him, then the production will come in the following years as he gains confidence.