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Eriksson Pumped for Backup Battle


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Joacim Eriksson already knows about patience coming before performance.

After being a Swedish junior hockey understudy to Jacob Markstrom before moving up the ranks and putting up some eye-popping numbers — culminating with a Swedish Elite League title last season with Skelleftea HC — the highly sought goaltender was chased by six NHL teams and now finds himself in a familiar position with the Vancouver Canucks.

Knowing that he will battle Eddie Lack for the backup job to Roberto Luongo next NHL season — assuming the startled reappointed starter will be motivated by Olympic and Stanley Cup challenges — Eriksson, the former seventh-round draft pick of Philadelphia in 2008, wasn’t signed by the Flyers and is banking on his latest battle being more about competition than contracts.

Then again, the Canucks tried to sign the 23-year-old native of the tiny village of Hedesunda, Sweden, a year ago because he falls into the conversation of the best keeper not playing in the NHL.

Signed to a two-year, two-way entry-level deal last month to forego the final year of his SEL deal, the butterfly-style stopper will earn $925,000 US if he plays in the NHL and $70,000 in the AHL.

Lack had hip surgery Jan. 29 and his contract reverts to a one-way, $750,000 status next fall.

To Eriksson, this current Canucks prospects camp, followed by the Young Stars tournament in Penticton in early September, should prep him for the big battle. He knows Lack from growing up in the same Swedish hockey system and he’s learning about the politics of the position. Regardless, he’s anxious for competition and will let his play do the talking.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to show what I can do, and it feels good to fight against good goalies,” Eriksson said Thursday following a scrimmage at Rogers Arena. “I hope the better goalie is going to play because I want to be as high up as possible.”

None of this should be surprising. It started with Eriksson backstopping Sweden to its only under-18 gold medal with a 2007 triumph in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. He was named the national junior development roster the following season but again played back up to Markstrom.

Eriksson played for Brynas and Leksands but his three seasons with Skelleftea really raised his profile — especially last season. He went 21-9-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and .931 saves percentage in the regular season before backstopping the playoff run. In 10 postseason games, he had a sparkling 1.06 GAA and .952 saves percentage, and two years ago had a 1.82 GAA and .932 saves percentage. So the better the battle, the better Eriksson performed.

“I’ve had many times where I’ve had good goalies in front of me, but it’s been good for me because Markstrom is a great goalie and when I went to Skelleftea, I had to do the same,” he added. “We had a really good team and the guys played great in front of me and took away the rebounds all the time."

Eriksson played defence until he was 11 and then switched to being the last line of defence.

“I like to be the guy in the back,” stressed Eriksson. “One save can make you the winner or one shot can make me like a fool. But I like the pressure. I played soccer when I grew up. I was not so good. I’m a butterfly goalie and I want to be able to read the game and stand up as long as possible. It’s a little bit different here and the coaches understand what I like and I’m learning new things. It’s a little bit faster here and they (forwards) get in on the goal faster, but I like that.”

It’s not surprising that Eriksson idolized countryman Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. And the fact that Anders Lindback, Jhonas Enroth, Viktor Fasth and Markstrom are making their marks in the North American game doesn’t surprise Eriksson. Strong coaching in the Swedish club system is obviously paying off.

“We have more goalie coaches now and that’s very important,” he said.

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Guest Cuporbust2

Hmm. We kinda forgot this factor. It's not like LU is the only good goaltender we have. We are still strong in net with both out starter , and backup

Great thread. Good read. I was so wrapped up in losing Schneider , I forgot About this kid

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The Swedish scouts save the franchise yet again.

Former Canucks captain Markus Naslund, now the GM of Modo in the SEL, said he believes Eriksson is a good signing.

“He’s played well,” Naslund told The Province from Ornskoldsvik. “His team won the championship this year and went to the final last year, so he’s playing for a strong team as well. He’s an athletic goal who catches right.”

Naslund said it’s always hard to project how a SEL goalie will transition his game to the North America.

“I don’t know how he’ll do in North America,” said Naslund. “He has potential. Some goalies have success right away, like Victor Fasth (Anaheim), who was (SEL) MVP two years in a row, though he played on a bit weaker team than Joacim.

“Everyone has a different route. I think it’s very difficult to predict (if he’s ready to play in the NHL next season). A lot of things go into it. The situation, the start you have, your confidence.”


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(The) 23-year-old signed for the Canucks just before the deadline of the transition from Elitserien to the NHL after he carefully considered the interest of several other NHL teams as well.

- My gut feeling was very good when it came to Vancouver. They have been interested in me for a long time and I'm really looking forward to come over and fight for a spot with the Canucks.

- There were a number of NHL clubs that were interested, but in the end i went with my gut feeling. I've done it when I have been selecting new clubs before, and things have went very well then. Therefore, I saw no reason to do otherwise this time.

Eriksson and Läck are friends already, but Skellefteå's gold keeper wouldn't have any trouble trying to oust his countryman.

- I know Eddie since earlier and it's a really good guy. It will be fun to play together with him and i have no problem with competing with him for a place. I have had several buddies that I have competed with earlier also and I intend to take the chance when I get it even this time.

- Eddie is a great goalie who has been really good in the AHL and it will be perfect to compete against him to get to play as much as possible.

Via 'Hedman'


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I think Eriksson/Lack in addition to Luongo made it possible for MG to move Schneider, albeit for an underwhelming return. Eriksson is an unbelievable goalie, and I fully believe he will be our backup if Lack hasn't recovered from his surgery this past year. I mean Lack's numbers before the injury weren't exactly stellar, so he never found his footing. Then the surgery, and god knows where he is on his development path.

Eriksson has a real shot at being a back up tender this year, let's hope he takes it.

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