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.
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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…