COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After playing 31 games with the Blue Jackets last season, Tim Erixon is ready to take his game to the next level.
Despite playing in well over half of the games in last year's shortened NHL season, Erixon is still working to improve and reach full-time NHL player status. This summer, he stayed in Columbus to train right after the end of last season, using the team's success as motivation to get him in shape for the coming year.
"After I stuck around in Columbus to work out, I went back home for a bit then returned to Columbus at the end of July and have been here ever since," Erixon told BlueJackets.com. "I've been working to get stronger and faster, so that's what I've been working on, and skating here and working out with the guys has been really good."
As a defenseman with the Blue Jackets last season, Erixon often played big minutes, averaging about 20 minutes of ice time from the end of February until the end of March. He finished the season with five assists and a plus-4 rating. Erixon said he was happy with how he performed last season, but knows he can play even better.
"Last season, it was my goal to make the team," said Erixon. "I did that and I was really proud to be part of the team. I thought I played good, steady hockey and even though I had an injury that slowed me down, I was playing some good hockey."
Going into this year's training camp and the 2013-14 season, Erixon is still trying to figure out his exact role in the Blue Jackets' stacked defensive corps. He credits a lot of his improvements to his defensive teammates, who have given him advice and led by example.
"We have a real solid defensive group right now," said Erixon. "Jack, Wiz (James Wisniewski) and Tyuts (Fedor Tyutin) have definitely helped me. Talking with them about the game and watching them on the ice has been huge for me."
When training camp starts in a few weeks, Erixon is looking forward to being back with the guys and playing fast hockey. However, he knows his fate isn't sealed and has a few goals going into training camp and the preseason.
"I want to make the team, and that is a big goal for me," said Erixon. "If I do that, I just want to go out there, help the team and play good hockey. I'm excited. I just want to get out there and play now."
"To do that though, I still have to improve my game and I know I'm getting there."
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