Joel Eriksson Ek
Hockey Sense: Eriksson Ek is a smart two-way forward who positions himself well to support his teammates in all three zones. He covers for pinching defensemen and shows a keen understanding of how to make himself available for either high-quality or second-chance opportunities. In short, his IQ allows him to control the action more often than not.
Compete Level: He isn’t necessarily a bruising presence, but he battles his heart out at both ends of the ice. He gladly takes on tough defensive challenges and will charge the front of the net for rebounds. A player whose motor never stops running is a huge asset.
Size: Again, Eriksson Ek isn’t a vicious hitter. However, his 6’3”, 208-pound frame still comes in handy. He can shield the puck away from defenders in order to buy time and establish a cycle game, and he can disrupt the opposition with his reach and strength. Combined with his work rate, his physical stature makes him a frustrating opponent to handle.
Finish: One scorching-hot season notwithstanding, Eriksson Ek has converted at a below-average rate throughout his career. He hasn’t shown the ability to beat goaltenders on clean looks, so his tireless work often goes to waste. With that said, he’s offset this weakness by taking more and more of his shots from closer range.
Faceoffs: This is one area the Swede has yet to address. Eriksson Ek is a poor faceoff man, losing well over half of the draws he takes. Given how heavily Minnesota depends on him at the dot and in defensive situations, he needs to work toward at least breaking even at the faceoff circle.