With the 2001 NHL Draft just three weeks away, New York Rangers president/GM Glen Sather changed the landscape of his team’s draft strategy by trading two 2011 second round draft picks (#45 and #57) and center Roman Horak to the Calgary Flames in exchange for defenseman Tim Erixon and Calgary’s 2011 fifth round draft pick (#134). The Rangers acquired the second of the two second round draft picks from Carolina (via Washington) in the Bobby Sanguinetti trade.

Considering that the Rangers were without third and seventh round draft picks, it is not too much of a surprise to see Sather make a move with his second draft picks. It will be really interesting to see how/if the Rangers GM continues his wheeling and dealing to fill in the holes in the Blueshirts draft board.

Those who think Erixon’s acquisition means the end of Michael Del Zotto’s tenure with the Rangers might be thinking prematurely. That is not to say that he is untouchable, rather it is to say that his trade value took a hit after last season’s struggles.

I would think the only way Del Zotto is dealt is if Sather can move up in the draft in order to select one of the top scoring forwards. The only problem with that plan is the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils occupy the fourth and fifth spots in the draft. If the Rangers could swing a deal with Florida at number three then perhaps Gabriel Landeskog could turn in his Kitchener Rangers jersey for a New York Rangers jersey.

In making the announcement of the trade Sather said, “Tim is an outstanding young defenseman with good size and mobility,” stated Sather. “He plays a complete, all-around game, and we feel he is an excellent addition to our developing, young defense corps.”

The 23-year-old Erixon is the son of former Ranger LW Jan Erixon who played his entire 10-year career with the Blueshirts. The younger Erixon, a left-handed shot, was Calgary’s first round draft pick (#23) in 2009.

The Flames faced a 5pm deadline on Wednesday to either sign Erixon or watch as he re-entered the draft. Given their cap situation, Calgary GM Jay Feaster had little choice but to trade the team’s former first round draft pick.

“You never want to lose a first-round pick you feel is going to play,” GM Jay Feaster told The Canadian Press. “What would have hurt more would have been losing him for only the compensatory pick. If I were standing here in front of you today saying we lost this player and ‘don’t worry because we got the 54th overall pick in the draft this year,’ that’s a much tougher thing than to have two second-round picks and a player we believe is going to play.”

“We tried. We made multiple offers. We made offers of salary-cap levels,” Feaster said. “All of which were met with ‘we appreciate it very much, but we still have concerns about whether Tim will be given a legitimate opportunity.”‘

In acquiring Horak, Feaster reunited him with his Chilliwack linemate Ryan Howse – Calgary’s 2009 second round draft pick.

Given that Calgary was under the gun to trade him, one has to wonder if Sather would have been able to lowball Feaster. However, given the online talk that Erixon could have gone as high as the top ten, Slats might have had no chance to salvage one of the second round draft picks.

In 2009, the International Scouting Service (ISS) offered up the following scouting report on Erixon:

“This solid two-way defenseman has proven to scouts that he is the real deal and will be a highly sought after commodity come draft day. A well-rounded defender, Erixon is a good skating, smart player who has a good set of hands and can read the play well. Although not overly quick, he positions himself well and plays an aggressive defensive style around his own net. He can get caught following the puck or over committing to the puck side at times, but generally has the skill to get to passes and attacking players before they become dangerous. Erixon attempts to move the puck quickly, which can work for him or against him, depending on the pressure given.”

ISS compared his style of player to fellow Swedish defenseman Kenny Jonsson. They also called Erixon a “reliable d-man that will play in the league and go unnoticed for 10 years” which sounds a lot like his father. Erixon was the 55th rated player by ISS.

Erixon entered the 2009 NHL Draft as the fifth best European skater according to the NHL Central Scouting ratings.

NHL Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire said,” “Tim Erixon brings to his Swedish Elite League club team, the same kind of elite hockey skills that perhaps his dad, Jan Erixon, did for over 500 games in the NHL. A smart defenseman who can either lead a rush or support the rush from behind, he was on display at the World Junior Championship in helping bring his team to the final game.”

The Hockey News (THN) ranked Erixon as the 32nd overall best prospect in the draft and viewed his NHL translation as a “two-way defenseman”.

In their 2009 NHL Draft Preview THN wrote, “Erixon has an offensive bent to his game, but hasn’t put it on display often for scouts when he plays in the Swedish League”. In Erixon’s defense, he was playing in Sweden’s top league as an 18-year-old.

The 6-foot-3 and 205 pound Erixon should be ready to battle for a spot on the Rangers Opening Night Roster. While he is only 20-years-old, he has played the last three seasons with Skelleftea (the same team his father played for) in the Swedish Elite League (SEL) tallying 14 goals and 30 assists with 96PIMs in 140 games. Erixon made his SEL debut with two games as a 17-year-old during the 2007-2008 season.

In addition to his SEL experience, Erixon has also represented Sweden in international competition. He was a member of Sweden’s silver medal winning team at the 2011 IIHF World Championships in Slovakia. Erixon also played for Tre Kronor in the 2009 World Junior Championships (silver medal) and 2010 World Junior Championships (bronze medal).

While Erixon’s playing experience has been for Sweden, the young blueliner was born in Port Chester, NY on February 24, 1991 while Jan was a member of the Rangers.

Here is another Scouting Report on Erixon, courtesy of The Toronto Star:

ASSETS: Has a projectable frame, very good instincts for the game and solid bloodlines. Displays all-around upside and the ability to log a ton of minutes. Is relatively low-maintenance.

FLAWS: Needs to fill out his frame and gain strength to better handle NHL forwards. Also must play with more of an edge to his game in order to maximize his potential.

CAREER POTENTIAL: Potential big-minute defenseman.

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