Flyers draft selection #196 -- Joacim Eriksson -- G -- Brynas Jr/Sweden
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02-07-2012, 10:02 PM
Grave Before Shave
Join Date: Sep 2009
Originally Posted by
I know some people laugh at this, but I managed to snag a job as a part time scout for Central Scouting Bureau just under six years ago. One of the things that I can tell with regards to scouting players is that there are certain characteristics you look for in players to determine whether or not they'll be players at the NHL level. With regards to Eriksson, he fits every criteria you look for in a goaltender to play at the NHL level.
That's pretty cool. How did you get the job and what exactly did you do?
First thing that everyone looks at is physical fitness level. Eriksson is probably one of the top five conditioned hockey players in Europe. Not goaltender, but hockey player in general. His physical fitness level is off the chart. He's incredibly strong, he's flexible and more important, he has a low body fat percentage and a very high lean mass percentage (in his draft year, his body fat percentage was 7% - it's around 4 to 5% right now).
Second thing everyone looks at with regards to goaltenders is their hand to eye co-ordination/reflexes. Once again, Eriksson ranked very high with regards to hand to eye co-ordination/reflexes. His glove hand was incredibly accurate and his sight is pratically impeccable.
Third thing you want from a goaltender is lateral movement. In terms of lateral movement, only one goaltender from Eriksson's draft year had better lateral movement and that was Jacob Markstrom. Eriksson ranked ahead of goalies like Chet Pickard, Thomas McCollum, Jake Allen, Tyler Beskorowany, Peter Delmas, Michael Hutchinson, Marco Cousineau, Brayden Holtby, Harri Sateri, etc.......
The next thing you want from a goaltender is their positional play. Do they square up well against the puck? How deep in their crease do they play? If they play a butterfly style, how quick are they to get back on their feet, etc.......What hurt Eriksson at the time was that he didn't square up well against the puck and he played too deep in his crease. That was attributed to the European game, but it's something that can be worked on.
The fifth thing scouts look at with regards to goaltenders is how well they handle the puck. Once again, Eriksson didn't fare so well in this category. He had improved by the time the draft rolled around, but he didn't improve significantly. That was one thing that he needed to work on and from video I've seen since his draft year, it has improved. He'll never be Martin Brodeur, but he has improved to the point where he's competent at handling the puck.
The one big intangible that couldn't be answered at the time, which also affected his draft rating, was how he handled adversity. Part of the problem was that Eriksson never faced any sort of adversity in his career. He always put up dominant numbers in every league he ever played in. Once again, scouts saw that as a negative. The other issue scouts had was that Eriksson had stated he wanted to remain in Sweden for two years after his draft year and then he wanted to come over to North America. He wasn't ready to come over after two years and scouts tried to tell him to stay in Sweden until he was 23/24. By then, he would have played in the SEL for at least a season or two and it could have been determined whether or not he was ready.
After his first season in the SEL, the Flyers didn't offer a contract. Part of it was because Neil Little felt that Eriksson wouldn't be able to rebound. He was never given the opportunity to rebound from the poor season. As well, Little became infatuated with Hovinen in Finland. Little saw a big goaltender who put up great numbers in the Finnish Elite League and was gushing over Hovinen's ability.
Now that Eriksson has had a year to get his game together at the SEL level, he's putting up numbers that were similar to Henrik Lundqvist (actually, in their 22nd year, Eriksson's numbers are better than Lundqvist's were at the same time).
I know hindsight is always 20/20, but Eriksson was what most would consider a definite player. At the very worst, you had a very good back up goaltender in the NHL and best case scenario is that he's going to be a number one. That's the kind of player you don't give up on after one poor season.
EDIT: One other reason why Eriksson went lower than others was simply due to the fact that his draft year, he played in only 28 games his draft year. The goaltenders who were drafted ahead of Eriksson played at least double the number of games he played. The other thing I should mention is that Eriksson is a good skating goaltender. Not great, but good enough to move adequately around.
That's all well and good and when they drafted him I don't think anyone was complaining. Certainly not me, anyway. But three years later when he isn't panning out and they don't decide to sign him, the scouting report from his draft year means bupkis. Especially considering he went through another draft and was undrafted and unsigned by an NHL team thereafter. Which again, I am not saying means the Flyers were right and this kid will not amount to anything, but if nothing else that fact at least lends credence to the notion that the Flyers did not make a mistake in this situation.
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