Although he made a strong impression with Minnesota so far this season – including scoring in his NHL debut – the team announced that they have assigned center Joel Eriksson Ek to Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League.
Eriksson Ek, Minnesota’s first round pick (20th overall) back in 2015, has played in nine games for the Wild, scoring five points (2-3-5) while logging 10:07 of ice time per game. However, as he’s just 19 years old, the team had to make a decision as to whether or not to burn the first year of his entry-level contract this season, something that would have happened had he played in one more NHL game. He had been a healthy scratch for two straight games while the team determined what their decision was going to be.
While the team could in theory recall Eriksson Ek if they so desire, the odds of doing so seem highly unlikely. As a result, his contract will be eligible to ’slide’ which should result in a slightly lower cap hit for next season (the cap hit is reduced by the signing bonus paid this year divided by three, or just under $31K).
Minnesota had the option to assign Eriksson Ek either to Sweden or to their AHL affiliate in Iowa but GM Chuck Fletcher indicated earlier this week that the team felt it would be better for his development to play back at home as well as the upcoming World Junior Championships.
[Related: Updated Wild Depth Chart]