The Minnesota Wild haven’t received the expected contributions from their young players this year, and again have given one the opportunity to find his game in the minor leagues. Earlier this year the team sent Jordan Greenway to the Iowa Wild to spark his confidence, and this time it’s Joel Eriksson Ek headed to the AHL. Eriksson Ek has played just nine minor league games in his short career, spending most of his time in North America in Minnesota with the NHL squad.
It’s hard to know exactly what the 21-year old forward is at this point, after 125 mostly disappointing performances for Minnesota. Given every opportunity to take the third line center role and run with it, Eriksson Ek has just 28 points over those 125 games (playoffs included) and has been a no-show for long stretches. Selected 20th overall in 2015 there were big plans for the Swedish forward, but he hasn’t been able to fulfill any of his promise.
Now the Wild have a decision to make on how to best develop their young talent, given he is clearly not progressing while in the NHL. Hopefully a short stint in the minor leagues will kick-start his game, but if it doesn’t what comes next? Minnesota finds themselves slipping out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference after a five-game losing streak has dropped them to 17-16-3 on the season and there have been rumors all year about changes coming up front. Perhaps the best course for Eriksson Ek is to spend the rest of the year, or at least a substantial part of it in the minor leagues to really refine his game. It’s clearly not working for him or the team at the NHL level right now.