Ericsson's time has come
The Swedish Elite League was not good for Ericsson's development. In his final two seasons in Sweden, Ericsson had no points in 39 total games with Sodertalje. During both of those seasons, Ericsson not only was sent out on loan to a lower-division club … he asked to be loaned out.
Ericsson is now a Detroit Red Wing, at least for the short-term until he's sent back to Grand Rapids when the Red Wings' defensemen get healthy. In North America, he's also one of the shining stars in Detroit's stable of prospects, being an American Hockey League all-star this season and acquitting himself well in this his first NHL call-up.
Coming to North America nearly two years ago has turned out to be the best thing that's happened in Ericsson's career.
"Fortunately I got a lot more ice time and I really liked the game over here," said Ericsson. "They say that young players shouldn't go overseas (to North America), that they should establish themselves in Sweden and make the national team before coming over. For me, this was the best thing that ever happened to me to come over here and get to play."
When Ericsson joined the Red Wings, Feb. 22, he became the lowest drafted player to ever appear in an NHL game. Ericsson was the final selection of the 2002 NHL draft … the 291st player taken overall.
He has played six games and could get into a seventh today when the Red Wings host the Nashville Predators Sunday. Ericsson was in the lineup Wednesday, bumping Derek Meech to healthy-scratch status.
If Nicklas Lidstrom returns as scheduled from his sprained MCL, either Ericsson or Meech will be a healthy scratch. If Lidstrom isn't able to go, both will get in the lineup.
Playing on the same blue line as the likes of a five-time Norris Trophy winner like Lidstrom is a lofty place for Ericsson to be just two years after being at the end of the bench in Sweden.
With the Red Wings, Ericsson is averaging a healthy 16:19 of ice time per game. That's more than Meech or Kyle Quincey averaged this season with the Red Wings.
"I just wanted to try something new by coming over here," said Ericsson. "I was stuck. I didn't feel like I got an honest chance actually. When the season started up, they brought in more defensemen and I got less and less ice time.
"It's not as long a season as it is here, so every game is so important there. I played on a team where we had to fight and battle every game just to survive in the (Elite League). I think they were very cautious."