When news broke that Glen Sather swapped Roman Horak and two second round picks for Tim Erixon and Calgary's fifth round pick this season, Rangers nation rejoiced. The trade was another one of Sather's gems, and gave the Rangers an elite prospect for very little in return.
Erixon automatically makes the Rangers already elite defensive corps even stronger. He's a young defenseman with ridiculous upside on both sides of the ice. Here is his scouting report from Elite Prospects:
A very smart defenseman that plays a solid two-way game. Erixon is not very spectacular, but plays an effective and rather simple game. He does not throw his body around, but can be aggressive and has active stickwork. Hockey sense is very good and so is his offensive positioning. Not a pure offensive force, but has enough skills to put up points and quarterback the powerplay if needed. Furthermore, he has good size and mobility and handles the puck well.
At the end of the day, as a Rangers fan, you can only have two concerns about this deal. You can either be worried about the two second round picks or about losing Horak.
If you're worried about the two second round picks let me reassure you; this move was a no brainer. There has been a lot of talk around here about Sather using the Rangers two second round picks to trade up and get another pick in the first round. Erikson would have re-entered this year's draft if he didn't sign a deal, and he was easily considered to be a top-15 prospect. In some circles he was even projected to go in the top-10. So essentially, Sather used his two second rounders to get a top-10 talent. Tell me you don't do that every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
If you're worried about the Rangers losing Horak let me also reassure you; it's not a big deal. For starters Horak was never projected to be more than a third liner. His best attribute was his faceoff ability, albeit something New York struggled with last season, but didn't really have any other stats that truly stood out. Despite a good WHL season this past year, Horak didn't seem to even be a contender to fight for a spot on the team out of camp. At the end of the day, there are plenty of Roman Horak's out there, there are very few Tim Erixon's.
Join me after the jump for how Erixon will impact the Rangers.
Let's start with what Erixon will bring to the table defensively.
He's a good skater, have a fair amount of size and isn't afraid to take the body. His hockey IQ is off the charts, and his stick work in the defensive zone is one of his best calling cards. He's been very effective at keeping opposing players off balance with well placed stick checks, and he knows when to take the body and when to take the puck.
Offensively, it's more good news for the Rangers.
He put up five goals and 19 assists for 24 points in 48 games for Skellefteå of the SEL. He also added three goals and five assists for eight points in 18 playoff games. Those numbers are much more impressive then they look, especially when you factor into the equation the fact that Erixon is a 20-year-old playing against men in one of the best hockey leagues in the world. His offensive abilities are underrated, and almost everyone will tell you he has a very high offensive ceiling, and he will probably end up being one of the guys the Rangers relies on to point the power play.
New York suddenly has what seems to be the youngest and most promising defensive corps in the NHL. Erixon brings a rare blend of size and speed, while adding some offensive flare from the point. He will have a fantastic shot at making the team out of camp, a chance he didn't believe he would have with Calgary, and can make an real impact on this team in his rookie year.
Make no mistake, prospects playing the SEL are much more prepared for making the jump right to the NHL than others. The SEL is not a junior league, it's one of the best hockey leagues in the world and Erixon played above his years there. If he were to make the team out of camp, he would be much more prepared then someone coming from the OHL or the WHL.
Now let's move onto what this trade means for the Rangers off the ice.
Since the Rangers used their two second round picks to take Erixon, it's almost a guarantee that Sather and Gordie Clark will draft a forward with their first round pick. This means the Rangers will be adding some offense to their pipeline on draft day.
The other thing this trade brings is some trade speculation. What will happen to guys like Matt Gilroy, Michael Del Zotto and Pavel Valentenko? It's pure speculation on my part but it seems like a defenseman or two might get moved.
Anyway, focusing on what we do know, thoughts on the trade?