It's not the goalie deal Vancouver Canuck fans are expecting but down the road it may prove significant. Canucks GM Mike Gillis signed arguably the best available Swedish goalie on Monday, Joacim Eriksson.
The 23-year-old was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in round 7, 196th overall, of the 2008 NHL entry draft. When they couldn't sign him, Eriksson took a path to the Swedish Elite League. That paid off last season as he lead his team, Skelleftea, to the league's regular season and playoff championships.
Along the way the 6' 1", 189 pound Eriksson's numbers were impressive. He went 21-9-0 in the regular season with a 1.67 GAA, a .931 save percentage and 5 shutouts. In the playoffs he didn't lose, going 8-0 with a 1.06 GAA and a .952 save percentage and 2 shutouts. Eriksson signed for 2 years with the Canucks.
While Eriksson, who catches with his right hand, is expected to challenge fellow-Swede Eddie Lack for the back-up job to Cory Schneider this season, he may need a year in the AHL to adjust to the smaller ice surfaces, North American style of play and North America itself.
Lack, coming off hip surgery in January and a shortened season, is ramping up his training and said most of his off-season will be spent in Vancouver as he prepares to step up his game and make the NHL.
He told the Vancouver Sun that he and Eriksson know one another a little and that he expected to have a battle in training camp for that No. 2 spot. "You have to earn your spot and I kind of feel like I have paid my dues in the minors now and it's time for me to step it up a little bit and show that I can play in the big leagues now," he said.
Eriksson, highly sought after, is not expected to be the only goalie to make headlines in Vancouver this summer. Roberto Luongo's name is sure to come up in not just trade talks and rumors, but, at last, as an integral part of an actual trade.
Canuck fans, however, have heard that one before.