Arthur Staple of Newsday talked to Rangers Head Scout Gordie Clark and wrote up a great article on Erixon, whom the Rangers acquired from the Flames last Wednesday. Among other things, Clark states that acquiring Erixon was a “no-brainer” and that he is already a top-4 caliber defensemen. Keep reading to see his exact words as well as my analysis:
Here is exactly what Clark had to say about Erixon:
For us, it’s a ready-made player — you don’t have to wait to see how he turns out,” Clark told Newsday in discussing Erixon, 20, the son of former Ranger Jan Erixon. “We know right now he’s a top-four D-man. He’s played with men for three years. He’s ready to step in right now.”
Now, this doesn’t guarantee Erixon a spot on the roster by any means. However, you have to think that, based on Clark’s comments, he stands a very good chance of making the team out of training camp. Unless Erixon decides he wants to stay in Sweden for another year or he just has an abysmal training camp I think he’ll be traveling to Sweden with the rest of the team for the season opener.
This clearly wasn’t a trade for need. With the young defensive core we saw last season combined with McIlrath, Valentenko, Kundratek, and Niemi in the minors, we’re hardly desperate for young defensemen. This was a move of luxury. Sather had an opportunity to add a 20 year old defensemen who is apparently NHL ready and universally accepted as a top prospect in hockey and the Rangers only had to give up a couple of second round picks. That being said, this trade does potentially help a need. Here at Blue Line Station, one of our biggest complaints was the fact that our 3rd pairing was so unreliable. This forced Tortorella to put Staal and Girardi out for 25-30 minutes every game, and they wore down as the season went on because of it. This was specifically evident in the playoffs. If Erixon is indeed a “top-4″ defenseman this early in his career like Clark insists then that will give Tortorella at least 5 defensemen who are reliable, if not very good, in their own end of the rink.
Clark has high praise for the young defensive talent and depth this organization has, and while the Rangers usually stand by the philosophy of drafting the Best Player Available in the entry draft, you have to think they’ll aim to get a forward in the first round this year. Clark at least admitted as much. If a defenseman like Nathan Beaulieu falls into their lap at the #15 pick then they might have to consider taking him, but otherwise all signs point towards the Rangers adding a forward in the first round this year.