2015 NHL Draft Profile #20: Joel Eriksson-Ek

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After some extremely impressive performance in the second half of the year, including being amongst the best players on the ice at this year’s Five Nations Tournament, Joel Eriksson-Ek is rocketing up NHL draft boards.  The Swedish centre, who has been playing against men in the SHL for Farjestads this season, has opened a number of eyes and he has gone from a late second round/early third round pick all the way into a first round grade. While he only has 4 goals and 6 points in 34 games at the SHL level, he has dominated with Farjestad’s J20 team with 32 points in 25 games. Eriksson-Ek is now playing in this year’s IIHF U18 World Championships and has already put up 4 goals and 5 points in just 3 games for Sweden. He also put up 3 goals and 4 points in last summer’s Ivan Hlinka.

Joel Eriksson-Ek

Center — shoots Left
Born Jan 29 1997 — Karlstad, Sweden
Height 6.02 — Weight 181 [188 cm/82 kg]

Joel Eriksson-Ek won’t be confused for a speedster, but his skating has really improved from what we saw at the Ivan Hlinka. His stride is a lot longer now than when we saw him last summer, and his speed and acceleration are now above average. He’s even shown the ability to go wide on defenders and cut to the net off the rush. He has a lot of lower body strength though, which allows him to fight through checks, win board battles and establish position in front of the net. He also has good edgework, and agility. Eriksson-Ek always had the other tools in his game, but skating was a big question mark.  Now with those concerns greatly eased, we have seen the improvements in his game, and the corresponding rise in his draft stock.  Given the quickness of his improvement, there’s also a good chance there is even more room to improve his skating over the next several years.

Joel Eriksson-Ek is a pure sniper with one of the best wrist shots in this draft, and an impressive snap shot. He has a lightning quick release, and his shot is already NHL ready. He protects the puck extremely well using his body to shield defenders, and his stickhandling to keep control while also being fully capable of driving to the front of the net, and having the soft hands to finish in close. He is good in the cycle game and extremely hard to knock off the puck. Eriksson-Ek is not afraid to battle in the corners and often comes out with loose pucks.  He has very good vision and passing skills and can play the role of playmaker down low as well.  He has very good hockey sense, making smart plays with the puck and finding ways to get open without it.  While Eriksson-Ek’s lower body strength is good, he has a lot of room to add muscle on his upper body, and this increased strength make him even more danterous.

Eriksson-Ek’s two way game is extremely well developped.  He is very good at the little things, such as winning faceoffs, using his long stick to break up passing lanes, and supporting his defence down low.  He shows the ability to work along the boards and win battles in all three zones and doesn’t take shifts off.  He also is able to contain opponents on the cycle game and Eriksson-Ek is willing to block shots. His compete level is very high, and he is always at the middle of post-whistle scrums.

Joel Eriksson-Ek has the potential to be a very valuable two-way centre in the NHL.  If he develops to his full potential he can be the type of centre who provides offence and is also tasked with killing penalties and playing against the other team’s top line. His style is reminiscent of Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings, though this is a stylistic comparison and not a talent one.

Below are some videos of Joel Eriksson-Ek in action.

Here are some highlights of Sweden’s game vs Germany at the U18. Joel Eriksson-Ek is #28

Germany vs. Sweden – 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship from IIHF on Vimeo.

Check back tomorrow for the number #21 prospect on my NHL draft board.