The Flames more recent first round pick spent the entire season in the Swedish Elite League, playing for Skelleftea HC. It was Erixon’s second season playing pro hockey for the club, despite only recent turing 19 in February. He was a depth player for the team as a 17/18 year old, but managed to play a more prominent role in his sophomore season (45 games, 7 goals, 13 points).
Playing pro as a teenager can be a mixed blessing for young players. On the one hand, playing against grown men means competition which is far more analogous to the NHL than, say, junior. On the other hand, they are often the youngest players on the team and, as a result, can be limited in their exposure/role/minutes. The latter issue befell Mikael Backlund when he played for Vasteras IK in the second tier (but still professional) SWE-1 league. His role and minutes were limited in his second season and a rift developed between him and his coach as a result. Fortunately for Backlund, he was drafted by the Kelowna Rockets previously and was able to skip out on Vasteras when it seemed clear that his development was stalling.
Luckily that doesn’t seem to be the case with Erixon. Following is some first hand observations from Adam Savonen, a Swedish sports writer who has been kind enough to share his thoughts on the player before.
1.) How good was Skellefteå this year?
Skelleftea progressed for the forth year in a row, since the team came back to the swedish eliteleauge. Skelleftea finished top four and that is the best result in over 25 years. In the playoffs Skellefteå beat Farjestad, but choked in the semifinal against the winner, HV 71. But Skellefteå forced HV 71 to play at their peak.