A common belief going around the New York Rangers fanbase is that top-flight, defensive prospect Tim Erixon will be a lock to make the Rangers out of camp this season.
Let's take a look at what Erixon did this past season:
- Erixon started the year with the New York Rangers, playing in 13 games averaging just about 15 minutes of ice time. For the most part Erixon looked a little over his head, but still had some flashes of brilliance. It seemed like he was trying to do too much with the puck and eventually he was sent down for seasoning at the AHL.
- With the Connecticut Whale Erixon appeared in 52 games scoring three goals and 30 assists for 33 points. It was down in the AHL where Erixon truly started opening up eyes. Erixon was a monster in the AHL, showing poise and confidence with the puck and honing the offensive side of his game in impressive fashion.
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- His play in the AHL -- mixed with some concern over the Rangers' defensive corps at the time -- earned him a five-game stint with the big club right before the playoffs. This time around Erixon was much more comfortable, made some fantastic defensive plays and recorded an assist in each of his final two games for the Rangers. His play was very solid, although it wasn't enough to let John Tortorella keep him in the lineup for the playoffs.
- So Erixon played in the AHL playoffs, where he recorded four assists in nine playoff games and again showed he can be a big-time defender for the Rangers.
Which brings us to an offseason of speculation for the Rangers. Erixon seems to be a lock to make the Rangers' defense, and with what he did on the AHL level it's not a wild assumption.
The Rangers are a team that has a ton of grinding, defensive talent on their roster. Guys like Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov are pretty adept in their own zone. It's not unlikely that if Erixon makes the team Tortorella might lean on a few different line combinations to help him settle in.
Still, Erixon is a player who thrived in the SEL on defense, and showed some serious potential when he was with the big club last season.
So what are your thoughts? Do you think Erixon is a lock to make the team out of camp?