In the future, the club hopes another Swedish-born blue-liner can provide a solid all-around effort at the National Hockey League level.
Sebastian Erixon, recently began his first season of pro hockey in North America skating with the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League. Signed by the Canucks last April, Erixon is showing early signs the transition to playing on this side of the Atlantic has been relatively smooth.
"Going to Chicago, playing a few exhibition games, and now into the regular season, I think he's a lot more comfortable," says Stan Smyl, Canucks Senior Advisor to the General Manager, who recently took in a few games for the Canucks AHL affiliate. "His composure with the puck shows there's not a lot of panic in his game."
Composed is a word many in Canucks organization like to use in describing Erixon's play on the ice. The 6'0", 190lbs. native of Sundsvall, Sweden is by no means the biggest blue-liner the Canucks have in their crop of defensive prospects. However, if he's lacking in size, he's certainly not lacking in other areas of his game.
"He's a transition d-man and he can make plays," adds Smyl. "Up through the middle, either on his forehand or his backhand, he gets very active in the play."
Having recently turned 21, Erixon spent the past four seasons developing his skills in the Swedish Elite League playing with Timra IK. It seemed to be a natural fit playing for that club in his home country as his father Staffan at one time suited up for Timra. As well, he skated alongside brother Christopher, who is one year younger, during his junior years in the Timra program.
Before turning pro, Erixon had a couple of opportunities to represent Sweden on the international stage. In 2007, he won a bronze medal at the World Under 18 Championships in Finland. Two years later, he helped his country claim a silver medal at the World Junior Championships held in Ottawa. You may recall that was the same year current Canucks forward Cody Hodgson led the tournament in scoring and helped Canada to a gold medal victory. Other players on Sweden's squad that year included current NHLers Magnus Paajarvi (Edmonton) and Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay).
Prior to coming to North America, Erixon collected five goals and 15 assists in 44 games with Timra IK last season. He wound up signing his first NHL contract with the Canucks this past spring and is now making his home in the Windy City.
While he's still searching for his first goal with the Wolves, he hasn't wasted any time in showing Chicago Head Coach Craig MacTavish, as well as the Vancouver organization, that he's capable of being a solid two-way player who plays well under pressure.
"Being able to move the puck quickly makes him a smart player, especially when it comes to working off the forecheck," says Smyl. "He doesn't go in there too early or too late. He reads it, and when he usually goes in there, he comes out with the puck."
With the Canucks depth on the blue line being as strong as it's been in a long time, it may be some time before Erixon plays his first regular season game in a Canucks uniform. However getting the chance to play alongside the likes of Chris Tanev, Nolan Baumgartner, Ryan Parent, and Yann Sauve (all of who played games for the Canucks last year) will no doubt help Erixon's chances in one day playing in a Vancouver uniform.