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Erixon has a familiar look

Thursday, 04.16.2009 / 10:20 AM / 2009 NHL Entry Draft

By Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

NHL scouts -- if they happen to be old enough -- already have seen what Swedish defenseman Tim Erixon might be able to do at the NHL level.

That's because Erixon's father, Jan, was a defense-first forward and one of the NHL's best checkers for the New York Rangers for the better part of a decade, playing on Broadway from 1983-93.

Jan Erixon was taken in the second round (No. 30) of the 1981 Entry Daft and joined the Rangers at the start of the 1983-84 season. In 10 seasons, he had 57 goals and 216 points in 556 NHL games.

By most accounts, in Tim's case, the puck hasn't fallen far from the hockey stick.

Yes, Tim Erixon does play a different position, but the similarities between father and son remain almost uncanny.

"He's a copy of his dad, I would say so," Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting, told NHL.com.

"Some people tell me we look alike when we skate," Tim told NHL.com.

Does Tim agree?

"I watch a lot of tapes of him," Tim said. "He was a defensive forward and I'm a defenseman, so it's hard to tell."

What's not hard to tell is Erixon's own NHL-worthy pedigree.

According to NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, Erixon is No. 5 among European-based skaters for the 2009 Entry Draft. He has played most of the season with Skelleftea AIK in the Swedish Elite League, holding his own against professionals, many of whom are twice his age.

In 45 games with Skelleftea, Erixon had 2 goals, 7 points a plus-5 rating and just 12 penalty minutes.

Tim Erixon also was a key member of the Swedish defense corps at the 2009 World Junior Championships, taking home a silver medal for his efforts.

Next month, he will be a key contributor again for his country, representing Sweden at the U-18 World Championship in Fargo, N.D.

As the No. 5-rated European skater in what is considered a very good top-end Euro class, it is a safe bet Erixon will go in the first round -- even higher than his father did more than 25 years ago. Stubb believes the top eight European players should go in the first round of the 2009 Entry Draft.

Stubb has seen a lot of Erixon in the Swedish Elite League this season, and remains amazed at how well the young player handled the pressure of playing in perhaps the most competitive pro league in Europe despite having no previous pro experience.

To make the accomplishment even more amazing, Erixon is joined on the Skelleftea blue line by David Rundblad, another player eligible for the Entry Draft for the first time this spring. Rundblad is ranked No. 6 among European prospects and also played for Sweden in the World Juniors.

The two young players are very close, despite playing the same position and competing for ice time.

"On the ice we are competitors; but off the ice, we are good friends," Rundblad told NHL.com. "It's great to have a friend my own age (on the team). We can talk to each other about all kinds of things."

And Rundblad is one of Erixon's biggest boosters.

"He is very good with the puck, great eyes, good on both offense and defense," Rundblad said, offering an impromptu scouting report.

In an unguarded moment, the more offensive-minded Rundblad admitted he wished he had more of Erixon's defensive-zone acumen.

"The way he reads the play in the defensive zone, he never makes a mistake there," Rundblad says.

Stubb, who has seen both youngsters an awful lot this season, has trouble picking the two players apart. Each is 6-foot-2 and about 190 pounds. Each, in his own way, has the makings of the classic power-play quarterback when he matures.

"I don't really have a plan yet. I just like playing hockey and that's what I want to do."
-- Tim Erixon

"(Erixon's) a little bit tougher, he likes to play the body more than Rundblad," Stubb said, reaching for technicalities.

Soon, each also will be property of an NHL team.

Erixon already knows what to expect in that regard. He has had long talks with his father about what's ahead -- the transition to the North American game, the anxiety of being so far from home, the demands of the NHL

Unlike many headstrong kids, Tim Erixon has no problem going to his father for advice.

"He can give me a lot of good advice and that is great," Tim said.

But what about the weight of the comparisons to his old man -- comparisons that began as soon as Jan began coaching his boy as a pre-teen? Don't those comparisons become a heavy weight, knowing that some have prejudged him by what his father accomplished?

"I don't look at it that way," Tim Erixon said. "I think it is positive. He's been through everything, so it's great."

NHL Scouting Combine GearSo will the younger Erixon follow his father's path to the NHL after he is selected this June in Montreal?

Tim Erixon said it is unlikely. He likes playing for Skelleftea, the club he has belonged to for much of his hockey career and a team he has played for since joining the U-18 squad in 2004-05. He believes he can prepare for the NHL as effectively against Elite League competition as he can by venturing to North America as an untested youngster.

However, he did say that nothing has been carved in stone.

"I don't really have a plan yet," Tim Erixon said. "I just like playing hockey and that's what I want to do."