In the last few days in North America----with a light scrimmage in Toronto for a rookie-card signing event and two informal workouts with the Rangers here in Westchester, Tim Erixon joked that he’s “been on the ice more than in prospect camp” in late June.
At the time, the 20-year-old Swedish defenseman, who was acquired on June 1, along with a fifth-round draft pick, from the Calgary Flames for Roman Horak and two second-round picks, had not been skating for weeks. And he admitted that the rustiness showed.
Yesterday, after the hour-plus combination of scrimmages and endurance sprints, Erixon---wearing a numberless jersey on ice and dressing in the smaller secondary locker room with other prospects and AHLers--- told Newsday that has been working hard in Sweden.
“I’m feeling good, better than the last time I was here. The autographs and all that were fun, but now I’m looking forward to camp and making the team,” said Erixon, who is sporting a scruffy beard.
In a week, Erixon will play in the Traverse City (Mich.) Tournament, where eight NHL clubs field teams of draftees in a round-robin format. That will be the next challenge for Erixon, a gifted blueliner who has played two seasons for Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League and earend himself a reputation as a versatile player worthy of a first-round pick in 2009.
But there are hurdles.
The next step is training camp itself, which opens Sept. 16, and three exhibition games in the U.S. before the team heads to Europe for four more exhibition games, including one on Sept. 30 against the Frolunda Indians, where goaltender Henrik Lundqvist played for seven years, starting at age 16.
“He won two titles there,’’ said Erixon. “It will be great for the fans. It would be amazing to play there with an NHL team for the first time. I hope I’m there to see it.”
Chances are, the 6-3, 210-pound Erixon will be in the building, if not on the ice. The Rangers will carry extra players for the four-games-in-four-countries trip (Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovakia, Switzerland) before arriving in Stockholm a few days before the regular-season openers against the Kings and Ducks on Oct. 7 and 8.