Flames land Swedish D

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

MONTREAL -- The Calgary Flames jumped on the Swedish wave at the NHL draft last night.

After trading down to the 23rd spot -- sending Calgary's first pick (20th overall) to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the Devils' pick and the 84th pick today -- Flames GM Darryl Sutter picked defenceman Tim Erixon from Skelleftea, Sweden, one of seven Swedes taken in the first round last night.

"It's a great thing for Swedish hockey. I know them all, they're all great players and great guys," said Erixon, the son of former NHL Jan Erixon, who played 10 years in the NHL.

Erixon was born in Port Chester, N.Y., but moved to Sweden with his family where he started playing hockey at the age of five.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder was the fifth-ranked skater among European players as rated by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau.

"We had him in the top four or five defencemen in the draft," said Sutter. "He's a good player. We had him in a box of players and we took the top one there. We got our (third-round) pick (in the trade) and he was still there. He's a really good two-way player. We saw him in a couple of big tournaments and he was a solid player. He sees the ice well and he thinks the game well."

Lacking a second-round pick today, Sutter said he made the deal to move down to build up the picks for Day 2 of the draft. The Flames now have two third-round picks (67th from Phoenix and the 84th) and two fourth-rounders (107th from Columbus and their own, 111th) today.

Erixon said he was starting to get nervous as names were called and he remained in the stands at the Bell Centre.

"It was a big relief and a great feeling when they said my name," he said. "It wouldn't have been the end of the world if I wasn't picked in the first round. My career is just getting started."

He played 45 games with Skelleftea of the Swedish elite league in 2008-09, scoring two goals and adding five assists.

Sutter was one of the few GMs to make a move yesterday.

He might try and do it again today.

"We've got a lot of picks (today) and if we can get higher, we will," he said. "Maybe there will be more talk after today. It's been really quiet. It's hard to move high-priced players in this economy.

"The good teams are trying to stay good and the non-playoff teams were focused on today. Maybe there will more talk after (last night)."

CHRIS.STEVENSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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