Today the Blaze announce the signing of Sean Erickson from the Tulsa Oilers as the last piece of the Blaze blueline for the season, and the only name on defence that will be unfamiliar to Blaze fans.
Chasing Dragons, being the hockey sages that we are, wants to change that. So we’ve done some research on the new D-man in town, and compiled the info we’ve found into this handy scouting report for EIHL fans everywhere, so you don’t have to. Here’s everything you need to know about Blaze’s new defenceman.
Sean Robert Erickson is a 6′, 190lb defenceman from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA. He’s 29 years old, shoots right, and joins the Blaze for his first season in the UK from Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League.
Erickson started his career with Bozeman Icedogs of the AWHL before spending two seasons with the Springfield Spirit of the NAHL, one of America’s top junior “feeder” leagues to either the Canadian system or NCAA college hockey. During his time in the NAHL he was nominated for the USA Hockey Player Of The Year Award and won his team MVP award in 2004/5, as well as being named Defensive Player Of The Year for his team both seasons in the NAHL.
In 2005 he accepted a place at the University of Connecticut to study sociology and play for the UConn Huskies in the NCAA Atlantic Division-a team who he would captain in both his junior and senior years. During his four years in the NCAA he scored 68 points in 121 games (14+54) and missed only one game in his first two seasons before suffering a concussion in his junior year that kept him out for more than half of the season.
2009/10 saw Sean’s first full pro season with Tulsa (the only pro team he has ever played for with the exception of one-game stints with Trenton of the ECHL (2008/9) and Oklahoma City of the AHL in 2012/13), during which he was named to the CHL All-Rookie team and scored 5+13 in 59 games. 2010/11 was his career year for goals (15) along with 21 assists for 36 points along with two assists in ten playoff games. In 2011/12 he played with former Blaze forward Gerome Giudice for part of the season, scoring 37 points as the Oilers failed to qualify for the playoffs, before matching that point total last season on a struggling Tulsa squad. This is his first season in Europe. In total, he’s scored 128 points (39+89) in 215 CHL games, with 213 PiM’s.
Erickson is described here by Tulsa coach Bruce Ramsay as “one of the best defencemen in the Central Hockey League” and “a leader on and off the ice”. He’s also highlighted as a player who is confident with the puck on his stick, who can score goals given the opportunity, a hypothesis which appears to be borne out by these two video clips-a nice lurk by the circle and quick wrister here:
and a nice finish on the breakaway here:
Not only that-as this video shows, he’s more than willing to get involved in the rougher side of the game where necessary: here he takes on Bill Vandermeer of the Missouri Mavericks in a decent light-to-middleweight scrap:
Erickson’s slightly skewed +/- coupled with relatively high point scoring (he was 8th in the CHL among defencemen last year, and 12th the year before that), show that he’s more of an offensive defenceman with good vision and instincts than a defensive crease-clearer-his size fits the “mobile offensive d-man” mould also.
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
That wristshot looks very useful indeed…expect a few goals from Erickson from the blue this season if he gets the chance.
Erikson is experienced wearing a letter-he’s worn the C for his NCAA team and also as an assistant captain for Tulsa. Maybe a possible candidate for a letter-or if not, another “leader in the room”.
He’s no shrinking violet judging by the number of Erickson scrap clips floating round Youtube…Blaze fans love a player who’s willing to step up for his squad.
He provides an alternative offensive option from the blueline, and a back up that means Mike Schutte won’t have to carry the whole load.
His addition makes the Blaze defence look nice and balanced, with three defensively-minded dmen offset by three swashbuckling offensive players.
FLIES IN THE OINTMENT
Granted, the plus-minus is very high for a defenceman, especially his -36 last season. However, this is offset by the fact that the Tulsa Oilers defence as a whole struggled last year, only one player who saw any significant time on the team getting close to even and only two d-men getting below -10 on the entire squad. It’s the kind of stat that people will jump on but I’m not sure it should be one to worry about too much given both Tulsa’s struggles and the role that Erickson plays on the squad. It’s also offset by him going +11 only two seasons earlier on a stronger Tulsa squad…it’s important not to place too much negative emphasis on one stat in isolation, which fans who look at this stat too closely are in danger of doing.
SO WHERE WILL HE FIT?
With the Blaze defensive group complete, we can begin to speculate on where the Minnesotan will fit into the grand scheme of things, at least early on. Erickson looks like he’ll be expected to be the offensive impetus from defence along with Mike Schutte for the Blaze-expect him to be paired with Benn Olson on the second defensive pairing with the Mikes (Egener and Schutte) on the first. His high assist totals and goalscoring suggest that he’ll also get some time on the powerplay point too-whether as Schutte’s partner on an all-guns-blazing first PP blueline or as Schutte’s backup on the second unit if Matty Soderstrom goes with a “four forward, one defence” PP template.
Erickson normally wears #15, but has worn #33…both are taken at the Blaze…which means it’s anyone’s guess which number he’ll pick.
Erickson is from the same hometown (Eden Prairie, MN) and the same age as former Belfast defenceman Tyler Howells, who played for the Giants in 2008/09. He also shares a birthplace with current Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Nick Leddy.
That’s the scoop on Sean…now all that remains for Blaze fans is to watch him play when he arrives in August…