Joel Eriksson Ek is a center whose career began in Sweden with the J20 Farjestad BK team. His first season with the club would be during the 2013-2014 hockey season. He would play in 13 games, and record 2 goals and 2 assists; in the playoffs, Eriksson Ek scored a goal and an assist in four games.
Eriksson Ek’s game would improve the following season when he would split time between the J20 league and the Swedish Hockey League. In the J20 league, he recorded 21 goals and 11 assists in 25 games, and in the J20 playoffs, he registered 5 goals and 5 assists in 10 games.
In the SHL, he played in 34 games, scoring 4 goals and 2 assists. He also played in three playoff games, but recorded no points. When he was eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, he was ranked fourth overall among Europeanskaters by NHL Central Scouting; he was taken with the 20th overall pick by the Minnesota Wild.
Weeks after being drafted, Eriksson Ek signed his entry-level contract and returned to the SHL to play another season with the professional Farjestad BK team. He would improve his totals to 9 goals and 6 assists in 41 games, and record a goal in the SHL playoffs in 4 games.
In the 2016-2017 hockey season, Eriksson Ek came to America to play in both the AHL and NHL. Here is a glimpse into how his career has progressed since he came to the U.S.
Regular Season and Playoffs:
His 2016-2017 hockey season began in the AHL with the Iowa Wild where he would play one game and score a goal.
Eriksson Ek was called up to the Minnesota Wild in late October to make his NHL debut; he scored his first goal in his first game against the New Jersey Devils. In his first 4 games, Eriksson Ek registered 5 points and then dropped off before he returned to the SHL.
In the SHL, Eriksson Ek would score 8 goals and record 8 assists in 26 games, helping Farjestad BK return to the playoffs.
In the playoffs, he tallied 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 games. He returned to Minnesota in late March and played the rest of the season with the Wild. He finished the season with 15 games played, 3 goals, and 4 assists; he played three games for the Wild in the playoffs, but recorded no points.
In his international hockey career, Eriksson Ek has represented Sweden on five different occasions.
In 2014, he played in the World U17 Hockey Challenge where he scored a goal in 5 games; he also played in the U-18 Junior World Cup where he recorded 3 goals and an assist in 5 games.
In 2015, he represented Sweden at the world U18 Championships where he scored 5 goals and an assist in five games.
In 2017, he played in the World Junior Championships and notched 6 goals and 3 assists in 7 games. His last appearance was in 2017 in the World Championships where he scored a goal and registered 2 assists in 10 games. He won a gold medal in the tournament.
What’s next for Joel Eriksson Ek?
Eriksson Ek was the fourth line center behind Eric Staal, Mikael Granlund, and Mikko Koivu last year. Fans can expect him to return to the fourth line again and improve on his totals from last season with more games played at the NHL level.
Staal (32 years old) and Koivu (34 years old) are veterans whose days are numbered so, in time, Eriksson Ek could be expected to fill in as the second line center behind Granlund who had a terrific season and seems to be a future franchise player in the making.
Featured Image via Google Images/ gonepuckwild.com