Tim Erixon was a player that the New York Rangers did not want to include in a Rick Nash trade, but in order to get the deal done, he was a crucial piece.
The 21-year-old Swedish defenseman was drafted in the first round (21st overall) by the Calgary Flames in 2009, and was traded to the Rangers last July. He's a second-generation NHLer, as his father Jan was a premier shutdown forward for the Rangers in the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike his dad, Tim is regarded as an elite prospect and a strong two-way defenseman.
He was a steady performer for Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League over parts of four seasons, beginning his professional career at age 17. He has represented Sweden four times in international competition and just completed his first North American pro season with the Connecticut Whale, the Rangers' AHL affiliate.
Erixon joins a revamped and fortified stable of defensemen in the Blue Jackets pipeline and will no doubt compete for a roster spot when training camp begins. We caught up with Tim via email (he's at home, training in his native Sweden and there's a sizeable time difference), and he answered a handful of assorted questions for BlueJackets.com and the CBJ Today blog.
Here's what Tim had to say:
CBJ.com: Now that you've had a few weeks to think about it, what are your feelings about joining the Blue Jackets?
Erixon: I'm very excited to join the Blue Jackets. I've heard nothing but good things about the club and the city.
CBJ.com: Did the trade surprise you?
Erixon: I was a little bit surprised, but not shocked. There was a lot of rumors about the trade. But I'm excited about the opportunity in Columbus!
CBJ.com: What did you learn from in New York that will help you in Columbus?
Erixon: I learned a lot both in New York and Hartford. I think I proved to myself that I'm capable of playing in the NHL, and I think I improved a lot as the season went along.
CBJ.com: You will have Dubinsky and Anisimov coming with you to the Blue Jackets. Does that make the adjustment easier for you?
Erixon: They are both great guys, so of course, that's a great thing for me.
CBJ.com: Describe how you've developed as a defenseman since being drafted a few years ago.
Erixon: I like to think I've improved in all situations. I have had a year now to adjust to the smaller rink size and I really like playing on it.
CBJ.com: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Erixon: Spend time with friends and family, (and) fishing.
CBJ.com: What is one thing that most people may not know about you?
Erixon: I'm a big cycling fan. I watch the Tour de France and all the other races.
CBJ.com: How much of an influence has your father been on your hockey career?
Erixon: He was my coach when I was younger and has always been there with tips, etc. But he never pushed me into becoming a hockey player, that has just always been my dream.
CBJ.com: Have you talked to the Blue Jackets coaching staff, and if so, what have they told you about your role here?
Erixon: Yes I've talked to them. They sounded happy and told me to come in and fight for a spot, and that's what I'm going to do.
CBJ.com: What do you know about Columbus as a city?
Erixon: I've talked to (former Blue Jackets forward) Joakim Lindstrom, who lives in the same city as me here in Sweden. He has only good things to say about the city so I'm excited.