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Filip Eriksson’s expectations for the 2023-24 season

Photo: Patrik Bexell/EOTP

The Växjö Lakers’ second practice on the ice is relaxed at first, but as soon as the puck is dropped the players get a different look in their eyes. The 40-minute practice focuses on breakouts and zone entries in different ways, but if there is a chance to score the players take it.

While Montreal Canadiens prospect Filip Eriksson waits to the very end of practice to collect the pucks and gear, he is at a loss. Buffalo Sabres property Noah Östlund stays on the ice another 15 minutes practising his shot and deals with the pucks even if he isn’t a rookie per se.

When we get a chance to speak with Eriksson a few minutes later, he is quick to point out Adam Nicholas’s parting words as Montreal’s development camp came to a close: “Build up yourself, but do it in your own pace, don’t rush. Just make sure to get the details right.” When asked to elaborate, Eriksson says that “everything has to come together. You can’t build one thing individually; stamina, explosiveness, and core will have to be built up at a similar pace.”

Eriksson describes himself  as a “smart player, who’s on the right place all the time; a two-way centre.”

He was a bit surprised when his name was called at the NHL draft, even if there were some scouting services that had him ranked. He expected his injury would prevent him from being drafted this year, so it was a pleasant surprise. When he mentions the injury, he is also points out  that he is “happy with the operation and the rehab went really well, fast, and within the expected timeframe.”

This raises the question about staying with his hometown team of Troja-Ljungby for another year, rather than moving to Växjö earlier. “The extra year in Troja-Ljungby was important. It was COVID the year before and due to that I had the chance to play all games with both the U18s and U20s. I think it was important to play all those games, and only focus on playing games. On top of the things on the ice, I also matured as a person and player, and of course it gave me a chance to gain some muscles too.”

The goal for this year is simple. “It is to take a spot in Växjö Lakers, to get to play the games. The bonus as champions are that we get to play in Champions Hockey League, and I might get a chance to showcase myself in that tournament.”

Within the Swedish system the Junior teams are the same as the SHL teams, therefore the option to play Juniors still exist for Eriksson, but at the moment that is far from his and the coaching staff’s mind. “We haven’t spoken about joining the U20 team (in Växjö). Focus is to make the SHL team. Coach Jörgen Jönsson hasn’t said much. Focus should be here and now.”

However, Eriksson is aware that Adam Engström took a roster spot with Rögle last season, and finished it off with an U20 gold. Eriksson came away from last year with something that was even better, an SHL gold medal.

“I was fortunate to win the Le Mat Trophy here in Växjö in my rookie season. I know what it takes, how much effort and dedication you need to win it. I won it in my rookie year; there are really good players who never win a championship. I was fortunate, but it also helps as I know how much it takes and how good you have to be, as a team, but also as a player.”

It will be an interesting season for the young prospect. Växjö is a stacked team especially with the addition of Östlund, so getting games in the SHL with the champions should be a sign of development in itself.

It is also important for Eriksson to play a lot. He was named to Sweden’s U20 squad for the Five Nations tournament later this month, in a first step toward what must be an important goal: the World Junior Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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