One of the fastest risers heading into the 2015 NHL Draft is Joel Eriksson Ek. Here’s everything you need to know about the Swedish centre.
Age on June 26: 18
From: Karlstad, Sweden
Weight: 183 pounds
Current Team: Farjestad (Sweden)
NHL Central Scouting Rank (International): 4th
Marek’s Take: Plays a complete game and competes hard. A really aggressive offensive threat with a great release. Comparable: Joel Ward
Coming on strong
Eriksson Ek wasn't a highly touted draft prospect entering the 2014-15 season, but he blossomed into a player who will garner first-round consideration.
His all-around game was noticed by Central Scouting, who originally ranked him 22nd at mid-season before he flew all the way up to the No. 4 spot for international skaters.
Eriksson Ek split the 2014-15 campaign between Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League and their junior team. He posted just six points in 34 games with the big club after he registered 21 goals and 32 points in 25 games at the junior level.
If you only look at his numbers, his offensive upside may not appear to be as high as other first-round talents in this class, but he held his own against older, more experienced competition in Sweden. The two-way centre projects more as a complementary player than a potential superstar.
But make no mistake: he is a natural goal scorer.
Eriksson Ek is lauded for his intensity, incredible work ethic and for being a reliable two-way player who is especially responsible in his own end.
No one would describe Eriksson Ek as a finesse player. The ultra-competitive Swede plays physical, finishing his checks, battling hard along the boards, and driving hard to the net. He is also a capable faceoff man who excels at finding open areas of the ice. His childhood hero was Swedish legend Peter Forsberg, and he models his team-oriented style of play after the former Colorado Avalanche superstar.
Coaches are going to love Eriksson Ek's attention to detail. He isn't a vocal leader, but will be a reliable lead-by-example kind of player.
Random tidbits (via NHL.com)
NHL team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Shootout move: "The Pavel Datsyuk"
Video game: NHL 15
Movie: The Next Three Days
Actor: Russell Crowe
Music group: Swedish House Mafia
Sport (other than hockey): Soccer
Athlete: Gunde Svan