On this day in 2011, the Calgary Flames trade Tim Erixon to the New York Rangers for Roman Horak
8 months ago
On this day in 2011, the Calgary Flames traded disgruntled former first-round pick Tim Erixon, who refused to sign with the club, to the New York Rangers for forward Roman Horak and two second round picks in 2011.
Erixon was a guy who gave off some serious diva energy. You’re a first-round draft pick in 2009 traded to a team who may not be winning the Stanley Cup anytime soon, but a team who is at least in the race, and you’re trying to dictate them as a rookie?
As there almost always is with higher-end prospects like Erixon who go unsigned by the team that drafted them, they often feel as if their path to the NHL is limited within that organization. For him, this was absolutely the case in Calgary. However, it’s been speculated that another reason he didn’t want to ink a deal in Western Canada is so that he could play close to where his father, Jan Erixon, did when he spent his whole 10-year career with the New York Rangers.
Erixon was their top prospect, viewed as a well-rounded player who was physical, could move the puck well, and was expected to be a top-four defenceman. Fans were furious, but oddly enough, they were more incensed at the fact that general manager and head coach Darryl Sutter couldn’t come to terms with a basic deal to get the defenceman on the ice, except he did. Sutter gave him two separate arrangements to get the young rookie inked to a contract, but neither satisfied him.
“It was disappointing and, overall, frustrating more than anything.” Craig Conroy, the Flames assistant general manager, expressed to Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald as the organization scrambled to work something out before their deadline.
If the Flames didn’t act as soon as possible, Erixon would re-enter the 2011 draft, most likely as a top-10 prospect, and Calgary would receive a second-round choice as compensation. It wouldn’t be a good look, as Jay Feaster traded places with Sutter as GM in 2010 to mark his first season with the club.
But a deal was made and daddy’s boy — as he was referred to in the Calgary market — was sent right back home to the Rangers, where his father had been drafted in the second round of the 1981 draft.
“I was surprised when it happened. But a nice surprise,” Erixon told Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald. “I had nothing against Calgary.
“A great city, and everyone was good to me. It was never about the money. Just some small issues. I don’t really think I have to explain myself. I know what happened.”
Calgary made the best out of a bad situation and took fifth-rounder Horak, who, unlike Erixon, was excited to be a part of their organization.
“When I spoke to Roman, the excitement you could feel it through the phone,” Feaster boasted to Cruickshank. “We get a player who’s excited about being here.”
The deal seemed like a steal for the Rangers, who’d already had good prospect depth on the blue line, but the Flames would receive the last laugh. Erixon would only dress for 18 games in the Big Apple that year, which was ironic for a guy who wanted to crack a full-time roster spot. They ended up using him as an asset for trades rather than a regular roster guy trading him to the Columbus Blue Jackets to acquire Rick Nash.
Erixon bounced between organizations primarily playing in the American League between 2012 and 2019. Ahead of the 2019-20 season, he signed in the SHL where he now plays with Timrå IK.
Meanwhile, Horak took off in Calgary, being pencilled into the lineup between two natural goal scorers, Rene Bourque and Lee Stempniak. He was set up for success, and in his first seven games, he had five points which turned the head of fans, forgetting all about their first-round diva.
Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that Horak was still a kid and was overwhelmed by pressures in the next 51 games, only getting two more points on the stats card. During those games, his playing time decreased from around 13 minutes of total ice time to approximately eight.
He stayed with the organization, being tossed around from the AHL to the Flames for one more year before Calgary traded him across the Province to their rivals, the Edmonton Oilers, in 2013 alongside Laurent Brossoit for Oliver Roy and Ladislav Smid. He lasted there for a season before heading overseas ahead of the 2014-15 season. Since then, he’s split time between the KHL, SHL and the Czech League, where he remains today.
The two draft picks the Flames acquired alongside Horak were used to select Markus Granlund 45th overall and Tyler Wotherspoon 57th overall. Granlund spent two and a half years in Calgary before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Hunter Shinkaruk. Wotherspoon, meanwhile, only played 30 NHL games — all with the Flames — and spent the majority of his time with the AHL club in Adirondack and later Stockton. He left the Flames organization ahead of the 2018-19 season and played last year with the Utica Comets.
At the end of the day, Erixon got a sweet taste of irony for trying to force a team’s hand, and the Flames had a friendly little smirk and a chuckle, but both Horak and Erixon wound up as assets to capture future names for their organizations.
You never know what a player is like until they hit NHL ice.
Sometimes it’s not just hockey.
Sometimes it’s business.
Aleena Aksenchuk is an intern with Oilersnation and the Nation Network. She can be found on Twitter at @A_Aksenchuk8
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