The Minnesota Wild appear ready to give 2015 1st round draft pick (20th overall) Joel Eriksson Ek another season in Sweden’s SHL, according to a report in vf.se.
“Our plan is that he will remain in Färjestad and play there next season,” said Wild European scout Ricard Persson (in a rough translation). “We think it is a great environment for Joel to continue to develop.”
The team signed Eriksson Ek to a three-year, entry-level deal last summer following the draft, but appears content to let him develop in one of Europe’s top leagues. In his 18-year-old season with Färjestad he put up nine goals and 15 points through 41 games.
He also spent time playing for the national team at the 2016 World Junior Championship, where he scored a goal and an assist in six games. Though that understates the impact he had playing on the wing of the team’s second line — which was slated to feature William and Alexander Nylander until William was injured in the opening game. He showed some physical play and offensive intelligence throughout the tournament.
In the absence of something unexpected — and it’s a long ways down the road still — he should be a part of the national team once again at the 2017 World Juniors in Montreal and Toronto, set to kick off on December 26, 2016.
Eriksson Ek participated in the Wild’s development camp last year, and is expected to be back in St. Paul this summer for another development camp.
The team disputes that report, according to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo. Assistant general manager Brent Flahr said, “He’s under contract with the Wild and we have not made any decisions yet on what’s best for him next season”
The news didn’t come as a surprise, as keeping Eriksson Ek in a developmental league made the most sense based on what had been seen. It would make sense, even if the team has more or less decided to keep Eriksson Ek in Sweden next year, to give him a fair shot at camp over declaring anything too early.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.