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Prospect Update: Olle Eriksson Ek
By Thomas Harrington
A fifth round pick from 2017, Olle Eriksson Ek played his second professional season in North America this year, with most of it coming in the AHL.
Eriksson Ek only played in five games in the ECHL and had a record of 3-2 with a .901 save percentage and a 2.79 goals against average. He spent most of the year with the Gulls, playing in 15 games with a .901 save percentage and 3.14 goals against average. He was San Diego’s backup, and given that they had veteran Jeff Glass to turn to, it’s impressive that he was the team’s number two goaltender, behind Lukas Dostal. He was great in March especially, when he had a 5-1 record to go along with 2.02 goals against average and a .927 save percentage.
Eriksson Ek met my expectations from a year ago. First, if he was in the ECHL, I wanted him to improve on his 2019-2020 season in the ECHL, which he did. His save percentage was essentially the same–it was .902 the year before–but his goals against average improvedfrom 3.01 to 2.79. My second expectation was just to play well for the Gulls if he made it to the AHL. While he wasn’t perfect, he was a solid backup for San Diego and was their best player in a number of games.
This coming season, Eriksson Ek will once again be fighting for playing time with the Gulls. With Ryan Miller retired, Anthony Stolarz will likely be John Gibson’s backup in Anaheim. However, if the Ducks decide to bring in a more experienced NHL backup, then Eriksson Ek will be fighting with Dostal and Stolarz for playing time with the Gulls. If that happens, there’s a chance that Eriksson Ek could get some playing time in the ECHL.
With it being unclear where Eriksson Ek will play next season, expectations are a little hard to set for him. With that in mind, my expectations for Eriksson Ek will be very simple: whether he’s in the AHL or ECHL, to put up better numbers than he did this past season. I want his goals against average to go down and his save percentage to go up, regardless of which league he plays in. I also want him to play in more games total, regardless of league. If it’s a three-way fight for playing time in San Diego, that will be difficult to pull off, but if he does, it will be a good sign of his development.
Eriksson Ek still has a ways to go before he makes it to the NHL. While Anaheim isn’t flush with goaltenders, Gibson is firmly entrenched as the starter, and Stolarz and Dostal will keep Eriksson Ek in the minors through the next season. It really comes down to what the team does with Dostal that will determine when Eriksson Ek makes his NHL debut. If Dostal makes it to Anaheim in the next season or two and the Ducks decide he’s the goalie of the future, they may opt to move Gibson at some point. If that happens, there could be a spot behind Dostal for Eriksson Ek with the Ducks.
However, if the Ducks decide to stick with Gibson long term, Dostal then could become a valuable trade chip. If he were to be moved, then Eriksson Ek would move up the depth chart and have a shot at the NHL in the next few years. Either way, I think he’s a number of years from the NHL, and he’ll have time to refine his game in San Diego.
Eriksson Ek has one year remaining on his entry-level deal and he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer. If he can grab the backup role in San Diego and excel in it, I expect him to be re-signed a year from now. However, if he spends most of the year in the ECHL, the Ducks may decide not to qualify him. This coming season will go a long way in determining how long Eriksson Ek will be with the Ducks and Gulls.
The next prospect update will be on Albin Sundsvik.
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September 2nd, 2021