Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rangers acquire and sign D prospect Erixon

In case you didn't know, #StaalsAreBrothers. This became a popular Twitter trend the past couple of seasons thanks to the ridiculous MSG coverage whenever it was Staal versus Staal. Between our very own Marc, Carolina's Eric and Pittsburgh's Jordan, it's enough to drive any Ranger fan cuckoo. All the overhype became a frequent subject between #NYR tweeps as a sorta running satire of how The Garden covers them.

Now, you can add Tim Erixon to the list. As many already knew when he was drafted by Calgary in '09 (1st Rd-23rd Overall), the Swedish D prospect was the son of ex-Ranger defensive checking center Jan Erixon. Naturally, he was high on their list but the organization selected forward Chris Kreider, who looks on track to be a key part of the club's future.

In dealing away prospect Roman Horak along with both second round picks this year in exchange for Erixon who immediately signed an entry level contract before the 5 PM deadline, the Blueshirts are banking on the 20 year-old from Portchester, New York's upside- which could further solidify a young blueline that includes Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer and Mike Del Zotto,who turns 21 right around the Draft. They also got back a fifth rounder for their trouble.

On paper, it sounds good. Erixon was rated in their top 10 Draft Board and has good credentials, having been an integral part of Sweden at the World Junior Championships the past couple of years. He also participated in the World Championships, registering an assist in his country's run to silver. He's spent the past three seasons playing for Skelleftea of the Swedish Elite League, developing into a reliable defenseman capable of contributing offensively. This past year, he established career bests in assists (19), points (24), shots (89) and games played (48). In '08-09 and '09-10 combined, Erixon registered 27 points (9-18-27). Jan's son also was a fixture on the man-advantage matching a career high with four power play goals. He does possess a top heavy shot, which could boost one of the scariest looking power plays in all of hockey.

With the acquisition, the Rangers are very deep on D which now makes Del Zotto- once thought to be a crown jewel- vulnerable. Are they about to give up on him already in say a package for a much needed finisher? Who knows. It could spell the end for Matt Gilroy, who never lived up to lofty expectations despite being the odd man out for stretches before winding up back in John Tortorella's good graces. No chance they qualify Hobey. If they do intend on keeping him, it will be for less.

What are the plans exactly? You still have Tomas Kundratek, Dylan McIlrath, Pavel Valentenko and Sam Klassen.  Kundratek and Valentenko both played for Connecticut while Klassen moved up from Greenville. McIlrath already signed and is expected to be a huge part of the future, adding some much needed snarl to the back end. It's clearly a numbers game. They've stockpiled and barely have anyone legit up front. Outside of Christian Thomas who already signed and Kreider, who's supposed to stay at BC another year, what else is there? They messed up Evgeny Grachev, swapped Ethan Werek for Oscar Lindberg. Carl Hagelin could be a gem after surprising many. Ryan Bourque should be a solid third liner who's all around responsible. The organization still needs to add another scorer.

This Erixon deal is not just about improving in one area but about finally setting up for a trade to address the lack of scoring. It's time for them to go get whoever it is.

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