COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After playing 31 games with the Blue Jackets last season, Tim Erixon is working hard to take his game to the next level.
Despite playing in over half of the games in last year's lockout-shortened NHL season, Erixon is still looking to improve and become a mainstay on the blue line. This summer, he stayed in Columbus for several weeks of training immediately after the season ended, using the team's success as motivation to get him in shape for the coming year.
"After I stuck around in Columbus to work out, I went back home for a bit then returned to Columbus at the end of July and have been here ever since," Erixon told BlueJackets.com. "I've been working to get stronger and faster, so that's what I've been working on. Skating here and working out with the guys has been really good."
As a defenseman with the Blue Jackets last season, Erixon often played big minutes, averaging about 20 minutes of ice time from the end of February until the end of March. He finished the season with five assists and a plus-4 rating.
GALLERY: Tim Erixon's 2012-13 Season in Photos
Erixon, who came to Columbus from New York as one of three players in the Rick Nash trade, said he was happy with how he performed last season but knows he can play even better.
"Last season, it was my goal to make the team (out of training camp)," said Erixon. "I did that and I was really proud to be part of this team. I thought I played good, steady hockey and even though I had an injury that slowed me down, I was playing some good hockey."
Going into this year's training camp and the 2013-14 season, Erixon is still trying to figure out his exact role in the Blue Jackets' stacked defensive corps. He credits a lot of his improvements to his teammates on defense, who have given him advice and have also led by example.
"We have a real solid defensive group right now," said Erixon. "Jack (Johnson), Wiz (James Wisniewski) and Tyuts (Fedor Tyutin) have definitely helped me. Talking with them about the game and watching them on the ice has been huge for me."
When training camp starts in a few weeks, Erixon is looking forward to being back with the guys and playing fast, competitive hockey. However, he knows his fate isn't sealed and has a few goals going into training camp and the preseason.
"I want to make the team, and that is a big goal for me," said Erixon. "If I do that, I just want to go out there, help the team and play good hockey. I'm excited. I just want to get out there, play now and show how I've improved.
"To do that though, I still have to improve my game and become better, and I know I'm getting there."