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Prospect Update: Olle Eriksson Ek
By Thomas Harrington
A fifth-round pick from a year ago, Olle Eriksson Ek has been developing nicely over in Sweden for the past year.
Eriksson Ek spent time in both the Allsvenskan and SuperElit leagues this past season. In Allsvenskan, the second highest level of professional hockey in Sweden, he played for BIK Karlskoga and had a 5-5 record in 11 games with a goals against average(GAA) of 2.33, a save percentage of .907 and one shutout. In the SuperElit, a junior league in Sweden, Eriksson Ek played for Farjestad BK J20 and had a record of 10-6 in 17 games with a 2.01 GAA, a save percentage of .924 and two shutouts. In the playoffs, Eriksson Ek played in three games with a 1-2 record and had a goals-against average of 2.37 and a .925 save percentage. He was also named to Team Sweden for the World Juniors, but he was the team’s third goaltender and did not see any action.
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This coming season, Eriksson Ek will once again be in Sweden. He’ll likely see a good amount of time in the Allsvenskan, but hopefully, he gets some time in the SHL, Sweden’s top hockey league. He’ll also likely be in the mix for the World Juniors again. This could be his final season of Swedish hockey, or he could be there for another two years. It’s hard to predict when European players will come to North America. Hampus Lindholm came over right after being drafted, while Marcus Pettersson stayed in Sweden for a number of years before coming to North America this past season.
In terms of expectations for Eriksson Ek, there are really two things that I’d like to see out of him this year. First, spend some time in the SHL. Besides being Sweden’s top league, it’s also arguably the third best hockey league in the world. If he can get some action against that kind of competition, it would be great for his development. While it would be great if he spent most of the season there, I’ll be happy to see him just get a few games, and improve his numbers in the Allsvenskan. Second, I’d like to see him actually suit up for Sweden at the World Juniors this time around. Even if it’s just as the team’s backup, getting some ice time against that kind of junior competition would be great for his future. Sweden lost in the gold medal game to Canada last year, and they’ll want to get to the top of the podium this time. If he can lead Sweden to the gold, he’ll likely cement his place as Anaheim’s goaltender of the future.
Eriksson Ek is still a number of years away from the NHL. Goalies are notoriously hard to predict and usually take longer to develop than skaters. Assuming he’s in Sweden for only one more year, I believe that the Ducks will want him to spend at least one year in the AHL, if not more, before giving him a taste of the NHL. So the earliest that I think we’ll see him in Anaheim isn’t until the 2020-2021 season, if not later. However, depending on what happens with Ryan Miller after this season, the Ducks could be looking for a new backup goaltender. If Eriksson Ek dominates in Sweden this year, he could be in Anaheim much sooner than anticipated.
Even though he was a fifth-round pick in 2017, the Ducks signed Eriksson Ek to an entry-level contract in April 2018. The Ducks were really impressed with his body of work and opted to get him signed to a contract as soon as possible. The only other 2017 draft picks that Anaheim has signed are Maxime Comtois and Antoine Morand, Anaheim’s two second-round picks. Given that he’ll likely be in Sweden for at least another season, his contract won’t actually begin until he comes stateside. When he does, his three-year deal will kick in, and Eriksson Ek will be a restricted free agent when it’s over.
The next prospect update will be on Julius Nattinen.
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July 18th, 2018