John Davidson described yesterday’s fast-paced practice as “NHL-quick,” and the second day of the Blue Jackets training camp saw a continuation of that intensity. As training camp moves forward, players competing for a roster spot don’t have a lot of time to prove that they deserve to play in the NHL.
For defenseman Tim Erixon, the challenge is an opportunity to show how much he has grown while playing in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons for the first half of the season.
“I love every second out there," Erixon told BlueJackets.com. "It’s good to be back here and competing for a spot in the NHL. That’s what everybody wants, and that’s all I’m focused on right now."
The 21-year-old defenseman came to the Blue Jackets from the New York Rangers as part of the package deal last summer that also included forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. He played 18 games with the Rangers last season, and hopes that his time playing with the Falcons has accelerated his development into a steady NHL defenseman.
“I’ve been working a lot with the coaches down there on the defensive end, and I improved a lot, and can still be good on the offensive side," Erixon said. "I just like to play a two-way game, and that’s what I’m going to try to do."
The hard work has paid off for Erixon and the rest of the Falcons, who hold first place in the Northeast Division with a 20-9-3-3 record. The AHL experience might even give Erixon and the other players from Springfield a competitive advantage over guys who didn’t play professionally over the past few months.
“I’ve been playing – what is it, 30 games or something like that? – of course, that helps,” Erixon said. “I want to go out and prove that I can play on this level, and I can contribute.”
As for the speed and physicality of the practices so far, Erixon said it’s something he has enjoyed and is just another part of the experience for him.
“It’s perfect to get going right away so we can be ready right from the start.”