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Rangers VP Gordie Clark on Erixon trade, draft

Sweden's Tim Erixon, right, fights for the puck

Sweden's Tim Erixon, right, fights for the puck with Milan Michalek, left, from Czech Republic during their semifinal Hockey World Championships match in Bratislava, Slovakia. (May 13, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

Clark took me through the process the Rangers undertook to pick up Tim Erixon, whom he called "a top-four D-man."

"When you go through a draft, even after it's done, you keep tabs on the guys you liked but just didn't get, for one reason or another," said Clark, the Rangers' VP of player personnel who has run their draft for the last three years. "If we'd gone D (in 2009), there's a pretty good chance we would have taken Tim with that (19th) pick."

The Rangers chose Chris Kreider 19th and Erixon went 23rd to the Flames, who could not sign him, as GM Jay Feaster explains here. So the Rangers went to work, sending prospect Roman Horak and two second-round picks in the draft later this month for Erixon and a fifth-rounder.

"It's a nice trade for Calgary," Clark said, "because they get a prospect who's ready to turn pro and a couple of pretty high picks. For us, it's a ready-made player -- you don't have to wait to see how he turns out. We know right now he's a top-four D-man, he's played with men for three years. He's ready to step in right now.

"When you go back and check in on him, you see he's gotten bigger, maybe a little smarter on the ice. He's a very cerebral player back there. He really sees the play coming at him, he sees all the options and most times he chooses the right play."

As for the upcoming draft, where the Rangers pick 15th, Clark said the team has options in a field that is pretty even among the top 7-8 players but then drops off a bit.

I'll have more in Sunday's paper from Clark, who has helped transform the Rangers' draft operation and been a key cog in the team's move towards youth.

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