Canucks Sign Swedish Goaltender Joacim Eriksson

Thomas Drance
June 15 2013 09:25AM


The Canucks have reportedly signed Joacim Eriksson, probably the best European goalie on the market.
Photo Credit: Studio Eriksson Photography.

Last weekend, reports out of Sweden indicated that the Canucks were close to a signing an entry level deal with UMass-Lowell defenceman Christian Folin. Folin subsequently made like a PSA and stayed in school. But this weekend is different, it seems, as the Canucks look like they've actually landed a highly-touted Swedish born prospect in goaltender Joacim Eriksson according Swedish newspaper Noran by way of Pass it to Bulis

Joacim Eriksson is twenty-three years old, so any entry-level deal the Canucks sign with him will be of the two year variety. Eriksson has put in two seasons of stellar play for Skellefteå over the last couple of years, including a dominant performance in the postseason as Eriksson his club to the Elitserien title in his most recent campaign.

Read past the jump for more.

Several teams, including the Canucks it would seem, have been in hot pursuit of Eriksson this offseason. It was apparent that Eriksson was close to inking a deal with an NHL club yesterday, and it looks like he's picked the Canucks. The Canucks have allowed prospects like Jonathan Iilhati and David Honzik to leave the system over the past couple years, so the signing of Eriksson is one that significantly bolsters the organization's depth in between the pipes.  

Jonathan Willis recently described Ericsson as "the best European goalie still on the market" (following Chicago's signing of Antii Raanta), adding "Eriksson would be a contender for an NHL backup role but would likely start off in the number three role for a major league team."

Which, actually, kind of puts Eriksson in the same boat as current Canucks prospect Eddie Lack. Lack was probably the best goaltender playing outside in the National Hockey League in 2010-11 and 2011-12, but an injury derailed his most recent season. The Canucks obviously thought that Lack needed one more year of American Hockey League polish before joining the big league roster, which is presumably why they signed him to an odd two-year deal that was a two-way deal last season but will become a one-way deal for this upcoming one. That plan went sideways, however, when Lack was sidelined in the fall.

Ideally you'd have the luxury of giving Lack one more season, or at least a partial season, in the AHL before trusting him to spell Cory Schneider in twenty or so contests next year. But his contract makes that a bit tricky...

Just based on their respective contract status, I'd guess that Lack still has the inside track to be Vancouver's backup next season, while Eriksson is most likely to star in the Penticton Young Stars Tournament before being shipped out to Utica for most of the year where he'll battle with Joe Cannata for starts. If the Canucks don't pursue a veteran goaltender to replace the likely-to-be-traded-at-long-last Roberto Luongo, I wouldn't be surprised if the training camp battle between Eriksson and Lack turned out to be a hotly contested one...

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Austin Wallace
June 15 2013, 10:39AM
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Awesome! I love the way gillis is able to sign these free agents. I hope eriksson does well... This is great insurance if Lack's surgery ends up slowing him down long-term.

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#2 kobra
June 15 2013, 11:06AM
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This looks very interesting. Our cupboards may be a bit bare for many positions, thank god goaltending is not one of them. I am liking the moves Gilles has been making for our future, now if he can just figure out the Lou/Schneids situation. I personally think/hope he trades Schneids, as it would probably fetch us a better return. Lou still has it in him to win a cup, and we have Lack that could back him up. Corey did great learning from Lou, I am sure Lack would as well. Great news, thanks Mr. Drance

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#3 antro
June 15 2013, 12:09PM
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I agree with @kobra. If you have two promising young goalies to push each other for a backup spot, and possibly be another 1b in a couple of years, why not trade Schneider? You'd automatically increase the number of teams interested (betcha Yzerman would be). Luongo is still good for at least three more years, and then could tandem with either Lack or Eriksson. What other trade bait would the Canucks have (besides Edler).

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#4 Fred-65
June 15 2013, 01:02PM
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I'm betting Lack is putting just a little more effort into his training routine. Man sport is a tough gig

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#5 The Voice In The Dark
June 16 2013, 10:30AM
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@antro

It makes so much sense to move Schneider instead of Luongo for all the above reasons. I think Gillis' first mistake (on a short list of mistakes) as GM was not moving Schneider when his value was high and before the "goalie controversy" started - like the 2011 deadline.

I think the only thing holding that move back now is Luongo. Would he report even if they moved Schneider? Or does he just want to be done with this team?

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#6 UFO
June 17 2013, 04:15PM
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Clearly MG and Lu will be in close communications if MG were to make a #boldmove and trade Schneider instead. Being the consumate pro like he has been, I see no reason Lu would hold out if he knew Schneider was leaving. We've also seen Lu as a realist through this ordeal, he knows he isn't getting any younger, yet at this point he knows he still has much to offer. In 3-5 years, who knows, and it seems to me he understands that as well. People seem to want to paint Lu with the arrogant selfish me-first attitude, but I have no reason to believe that.

I'd argue Schneider's trade value is as high now as it was during the 2011 deadline. He has put together a solid, albeit shortened, season as a starter. He has 2 years left on a very reasonable 4M/yr contract.

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