This past season, many players on the Minnesota Wild took great strides in improving their game, one of those players is former first round pick Joel Eriksson Ek.
The Minnesota Wild made Eriksson Ek the 20th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and it has proved to not be a mistake, in fact, Eriksson Ek has become everything the Minnesota Wild had hoped he would be and one of those potential strides taken was becoming the top center in the Wild’s lineup.
Now all fair credit due to prospects and future upcomers such as 2020 first round pick Marco Rossi and 2020 2nd round pick Marat Khusnutdinov in which when Marco and Marat come into the Wild organization should look at Eriksson Ek as a mentor of sorts.
Eriksson Ek isn’t the most prolific goal scorer in the world in fact, the 20-21 season was a career high for him in terms of scoring 19 goals and having 30 points in 55 games. Oh and did we mention his strong defensive play? his defensive play earns him a good spot on the Wild’s penalty kill and also earned him 4th in Selke voting.
A strong defensive game such as Eriksson Ek’s isn’t a popular attribute amongst other top centers in the league and is something that he will continue to strive on and hone for many years to come and in those years to come it will be with the Minnesota Wild as Eriksson Ek inked an 8-year deal with the Wild this past off-season keeping Eriksson Ek in Minnesota until he’s 32 and buying in few UFA years. Essentially the Wild signed Eriksson Ek to a nice lengthy deal due to his defensive skills as talked about above and keeps him in Minnesota through the prime of his career.
One last attribute that Makes Joel Eriksson Ek the Minnesota Wild’s top center is the fact that he brings a strong leadership trait on and off the ice. We see last season with Zach Parise out of the lineup that Eriksson Ek had donned the ‘A’ on his sweater, a chance given to him by Wild coach Dean Evason to really show that leadership, although the leadership goes above and beyond wearing an ‘A’ on the front of a jersey.
It’s great to see a young player such as Joel Eriksson Ek step up and develop the ways he has in the past 6 seasons since being drafted. Leadership, combined with his strong defensive play and abilities to contribute offensively as we’ve seen this past season should give ‘Mr. September’ a boost to take his game to the next level.