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Färjestad's Magnus Nygren on Joel Eriksson Ek: "I am convinced he will make it big."

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Our sister site (Eyes on the Prize) had an interview with Montreal prospect Magnus Nygren, which touched on his teammate, Wild prospect Joel Eriksson Ek.

Joel Eriksson Ek enjoyed a good season in the Swedish Hockey League.
Joel Eriksson Ek enjoyed a good season in the Swedish Hockey League.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Recently, friend of Hockey Wilderness Patrik B of our sister site Eyes on the Prize conducted a phone interview with Montreal Canadiens prospect Magnus Nygren. The interview, which you can read here, covers 25 year-old defenseman's journey from Sweden to the AHL, and then back to Sweden.

In addition to discussing the concussion which led him to return home, and his possible future in Montreal, the Färjestad Captain was asked if there was anyone in the Swedish Hockey League he felt could be a star. He pointed out his teammate Joel Eriksson Ek, a center who the Minnesota Wild drafted in the first round this season.

Patrik: You have been here for a full season. You have played with and against some young talent within the SHL. Is there anyone that stands out, and taht you see as a future NHL star?

Nygren: I am totally convinced that Minnesota has drafted very well in regards to Joel Eriksson Ek, and I am not just saying that because he plays for Färjestad and I'm coloured by that fact. I see him every day, and I have taken him a bit under my wing. He is so mature as a person, but also [has an attitude of] 'move over, I am here now,' but still very humble. He works his ass off, and is very goal-oriented. I think players like [Lukas] Vejdemo will make it, but Joel, he is a different kind of player: a bit burly, tough, hard, but he still has the hands and the vision and the shot. A lot of it is up to him, but that day he goes over - and I hope he is smart enough and waits for another year or two - I am convinced that there won't be that many AHL games played.

Eriksson Ek indeed had a very good season in the SHL, posting 9 goals and 6 assists in 41 regular season games (adding another goal in 3 playoff games so far). 15 points in 41 games doesn't seem like a ton, but the SHL isn't a development league like Canadian Juniors or the AHL. It's a league where the majority of players are older and physically mature, and junior-age players like Eriksson Ek are rarely given big minutes off the bat.

To get a better look at what we can expect from him, let's compare him to first-rounders who've stayed in Sweden for their Age-18 years (since the 2009 Draft)*.

Player

GP

Goals

Assists

TOI/Game

ES Goals/60

ES Points/60

William Nylander

21

8

12

19:05

1.24

2.83

Magnus Pääjärvi

49

12

17

17:25

0.92

2.18

Mika Zibanejad

26

5

8

15:45

0.70

1.91

Jacob Josefson

43

8

12

15:17

0.74

1.73

Joel Eriksson Ek

41

9

6

12:43

1.02

1.66

Adrian Kempe

50

5

12

15:49

0.45

1.45

Calle Jarnkrok

49

11

16

16:45

0.76

1.42

Marcus Johansson

42

10

10

14:05

0.76

1.40

Alexander Wennberg

50

16

5

15:16

0.69

0.99

Aside from über-prospect William Nylander, Eriksson Ek is the best goal-scorer to spend his Age-18 season in the SHL, and holds his own among this group in terms of even-strength scoring. Combine this with how well-regarded his two-way game is, and how good he looked crashing the net in the World Junior Championships, and there's no reason to think that Eriksson Ek can't be one of the best of this bunch.

As for staying in Sweden for a year or two, that's up in the air. I think it's very likely that Eriksson Ek returns to Sweden next season, given that the Wild will still have Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, and Erik Haula under contract. I'd expect it to be only the one year, however. Granlund and Haula's deals both expire at the end of next season, leaving a possible roster spot for Eriksson Ek to claim if the Wild trades their rights or decides to part ways.

There's no question of if Eriksson Ek will play in Iron Range Red. It's when, and how good he can be. Based off what he did this season, you can all start getting excited for his arrival.

*Calle Jarnkrok was included here despite his being selected in the second round by the Detroit Red Wings. HIs inclusion stems from his having a productive NHL career.