On paper, Joel Eriksson Ek made a pretty good case for sticking in the NHL — two goals and five points through his first nine games — but on Thursday, Minnesota opted to return its prized prospect to his native Sweden, where he’ll suit up for Farjestad.
Eriksson Ek, 19, was the club’s first-round pick (20th overall) at the 2015 draft. He cracked the opening night roster after a strong exhibition showing and, at times, showed well in the early parts of the season, though his ice time had decreased recently.
He was getting fourth-line minutes before getting dropped from the lineup completely last week, sitting as a healthy scratch.
Still, Minnesota has no regrets about giving Eriksson Ek a look.
“This experience has really helped him,” GM Chuck Fletcher said earlier this week, per the Star-Tribune. “The thing we have to be careful of is when do we need to make sure he’s in a stable environment where he can play consistently big minutes?
“That’s what we’re weighing because we also want to make sure we protect our hockey club in the short term.”
It’s safe to say the Wild envision Eriksson Ek as a top-six forward, and the opportunities to play in the top six just weren’t there right now. Zach Parise recently returned from injury, as did Erik Haula — a versatile guy that can play up and down the lineup.