Wild go with a Swede; team selects Joel Eriksson Ek in first round


The Minnesota Wild selected a center with their first round pick in the NHL Draft on Friday night.

Joel Eriksson Ek from Farjestad, Sweden, was their choice with the 20th pick in the draft. Eriksson Ek, 18, is 6-foot-2 and weighs in around 180 pounds. He split the 2014-15 season between Farjestad and their junior team. Eriksson Ek had the most points of any under-18 eligible player in the Swedish Hockey league.

Internationally, Eriksson Ek represented Sweden in the Under-18 World Championships. He led the team with 5 goals and tied for the team lead with six points.

According to Elite Prospects.com, he uses his size, skill and skating power to the net to create scoring chances.

"Posses an elite-level shot, great vision, and slick puckhandling skills; as a result, it's no surprise that he has a natural knack for scoring big goals. Offensive catalyst, but also defensively responsible. Plays a creative, 200-foot game."

Hockey Wilderness says he has the type of "battle-level" the Wild like and has been compared to Nino Niederreiter.

Reilly to return to Twin Cities

But Ericksson Ek wasn't the only Wild arrival revealed on Friday, with former Gophers defenseman also making a return to the Twin Cities after becoming a free agent from the Columbus Blue Jackets – rejecting offers from the Blackhawks, Kings and Penguins, according to reports.

FOX Sports says that while Ek is a pick for the future, the signing of Reilly is one that could make an immediate impact.

According to the Star Tribune, Reilly will officially sign a two-year, $1.85 million (plus bonuses) contract on July 1, saying it "just felt right" to be returning to Minnesota.

"It’s a good, young team with a lot of guys," he told the newspaper. "They’ve been in the playoffs the last few years and they’re ready to take the next step. They’ve got a lot of great pieces. I got to watch a lot of games throughout the year, and they’re fun to watch. They’re a fast, up-tempo team."

Reilly’s father is a minority owner of the Wild, and his two brothers – Connor and Ryan – also play for the Gophers. Ryan will be a senior and Connor will be a redshirt junior. All three played high school hockey at Holy Angels.

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