New York Rangers' Michael Del Zotto (4), Tim Erixon, center,...

New York Rangers' Michael Del Zotto (4), Tim Erixon, center, and Brandon Prust (8) celebrate Prust's goal against New York Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov during the second period of an NHL hockey game. (Oct. 15, 2011) Credit: AP

CALGARY -- The forest of television cameras, microphones and notebooks enveloped the locker room space of Tim Erixon. Thursday's pregame media semicircle was one that generally surrounds megastars such as Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby -- not a soft-spoken 20-year-old Swedish defenseman who probably wouldn't be wearing a Rangers jersey at this point of the season if not for injuries to Marc Staal and Michael Sauer.

In an ideal world, Erixon would be learning the ins and outs of the demanding job of playing the blue line in North America with the Connecticut Whale and in AHL cities such as Springfield and Bridgeport.

Not in Calgary, a hockey metropolis that Erixon shunned.

Erixon, the son of former Ranger Jan Erixon, was drafted by the Flames in the first round with the 23rd overall pick in 2009. Teams have two years to sign a player after drafting him and own exclusive negotiating rights. The 6-2 defenseman played in Sweden for those two years but declined to sign last May and forced the Flames' hand. The club either had to trade him -- and his agent, Jay Grossman, provided a short list of preferable teams -- or lose him by his re-entering the draft under rules governing unsigned European draft picks.

So on June 1, the Rangers acquired Erixon with a fifth-round pick in last summer's draft for a pair of second-round picks and forward prospect Roman Horak, who made the Flames but was scratched Thursday night at the Saddledome, where Erixon was expected to be booed.

Erixon handled the throng at his locker calmly, insisting that he had nothing against Calgary but that it was a "nice surprise" to get traded to the Rangers. "There were just some small issues for me," he said, not necessarily monetary ones. Asked what those issues were, he said: "I don't really think I have to explain myself."

As for the expected jeering from fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome, Erixon said quietly: "If fans want to do that, it doesn't bother me."

Erixon, who is projected as a top- four defenseman, had a decent training camp but initially was assigned to Hartford. However, because of the Rangers' injuries, he opened the season with the team in Sweden and has played in every game since. He hadn't registered a point entering Thursday night's game but was a plus-2.

"He's in a situation where he's put in some minutes against some pretty good players," coach John Tortorella said. "He's very coachable, he can move the puck, he's learning a new system and how we play, so he's coming along just fine. To get thrown into where he is right now at such an early age, with the scrutiny on it all, he's handled himself very well."

Flames coach Brent Sutter said Erixon's return wasn't a "real focal point" in the locker room. "They've obviously got a good goaltender. Their forward group is really good. But we certainly know the [Erixon] situation and recognize it. I don't need to comment any more on that."

Brandon Prust, who played for the Flames for three seasons before being traded to the Rangers in the 2009-10 season and also made his return, had this piece of advice for Erixon when the booing begins: "Just block it out. He's so young, maybe he won't even notice."

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