The 2015 NHL Entry Draft is 10 days away and the Wild is looking to add that future franchise player. Hockey Wilderness is counting down the days with a daily mock draft. We are at pick number 22 today.
Propects a Go-Go
The Capitals have a number of good enough guys, but don't really have that star player currently in the system. Michael Latta, Chris Brown, and Andre Burakovsky highlight the prospect pool. Other players include former University of Minnesota Gophers in Travis Boyd and Nate Schmidt. Last year's 1st round pick, Jakub Vrana, scored 24 points with Linkoping in the Swedish Elite League and then joined the Hershey Bears late in the season and played in 10 Calder Cup Playoff games for the Bears and scoring two goals and four assists. Vrana and Burakovsky all come from the Swedish Hockey League and with the pick, look for Washington to go back to that well.
After signing defensive-minded coach Barry Trotz, the Capitals have started to focus on being more defensively responsible. Trotz has allowed the Capitals team to keep up the offense as they finished in the top 6 for Goals For per game, yet was 7th in the league for Goals Against per game. The Caps were inside the bottom 10 for goals against per game the year before. They will be looking to continue this idea of defensive responsibility and draft a solid two-way center to help lead the charge of the new system in place.
Eriksson Ek likes to battle in the corners with his large frame. Standing at 6'2" 180 pounds, he has the frame that can be beneficial in the dirty areas of the ice. He's a smart guy that pays attention to the little details. This helps him get in to the right position in the defensive zone and break up plays. His strong ase gives him great balance which makes tough to take to puck away from him. Some have compared his game to Nino Niederreiter. His hands are very good and he can shoot hard and quick with the best of them. NHL;s Central Scouting has him ranked as the fourth best international skater. McKeen's Hockey has him ranked 16th while most other scouting agencies have him ranked between 20 and 24 on the draft boards.
"He likes to use his strength and length to protect the puck from defenders. He was good along the wall in the gritty areas, as well as trying to hit opponents with checks and not just separate them from the puck. In the defensive zone, he was able to cover for his defensemen when needed, and liked to play gritty along the walls. Great versatility, great character and all-‐out effort throughout the game. A player you win with." - Future Considerations
"Eriksson-Ek's two way game is extremely well developed. He is very good at the little things, such as winning faceoffs, using his long stick to break up passing lanes, and supporting his defence down low. He shows the ability to work along the boards and win battles in all three zones and doesn't take shifts off. He also is able to contain opponents on the cycle game and Eriksson-Ek is willing to block shots. His compete level is very high, and he is always at the middle of post-whistle scrums." - TheLastWordOnSports.com
How he'd fit the Wild
This feels like the kind of player that Chuck Fletcher and Mike Yeo drool over. He has the hands, the shot, the "grittiness," and the position that the Wild need for the future. The biggest question on Eriksson-Ek is whether or not he possesses that high-end ability to be and elite NHL number one center. Would he be a good pick at 20 for the Wild? Absolutely. Will the pick leave you wishing for more? Likely.