Joel Eriksson Ek signed an eight-year, $42 million contract with the Minnesota Wild on Friday. It has an average annual value of $5.25 million.
The 24-year-old forward set NHL career highs in goals (19), points (30), plus-minus (plus-16) and face-off percentage (47.1) in 56 regular-season games with Minnesota this season.
“Of course I want to be here.” Eriksson Ek said June 2. “I think it’s pretty clear I like it. I’ve been here for four years now, 4 1/2 almost, and it’s been nothing but great. The fans, the city, and everybody on the team is amazing.
“I love it here. We have a great team. I really feel like we can win. I felt that before every game, we could win, and just take this as a learning (experience) and keep getting better.”
Eriksson Ek helped the Wild qualify for the postseason for the eighth time in nine seasons and scored three points (two goals, one assist) in the Stanley Cup First Round, when they lost in seven games to the Vegas Golden Knights.
“The biggest priority is signing (forward Kirill) Kaprizov, signing Ek and signing (forward Kevin) Fiala,” Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin said June 3. “We see those guys being here long term. They’re part of the foundation of this organization and our team. You can see it on the ice. Whether they like it or not — I know they are young players – but they are leaders on our team and they provided us with a lot on both sides of the puck.”
Eriksson Ek, who averaged an NHL career-high 17:03 of ice time per game this season, finished fourth in voting for the Selke Trophy, which is presented annually to the best defensive forward in the NHL. He was second among Wild forwards in hits (105), blocked shots (37) and shorthanded time on ice per game (1:40), and had 21 takeaways.
“It was a good step for me this year,” Eriksson Ek said. “I felt I got better. It builds confidence too. … I think starting last year, I felt more confident. You feel (if) you get to play a little bit extra, you believe a little bit more in yourself. And building up to this season I really felt like having a good summer and coming here and playing as good as I can.”
Selected by Minnesota in the first round (No. 20) of the 2015 NHL Draft, Eriksson Ek has scored 96 points (43 goals, 53 assists) in 266 regular-season games, and five points (three goals, two assists) in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games.