September 30, 2013

2013-14 Bruins Player Preview: Loui Eriksson

By Benjamin Woodward

He flew under the radar in Dallas, but Loui Eriksson is in the spotlight now as a member of the revamped Bruins' forward lines. (Hockey Journal Photo by Dave Arnold; Below: Getty Images) 
 

Loui Eriksson #21 - Right Wing

HEIGHT: 6-foot-2 WEIGHT: 196 SHOOTS: Left

BORN: July 17, 1985 – Gothenburg, Sweden

DRAFT: 2003 – 2nd round (33rd Overall) by the Dallas Stars

CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through 2015-16 ($4.25 million cap hit)

2012-13 STATISTICS: 12 goals, 17 assists, 29 points, minus-9 in 48 games

LOOKING BACK ON 2013

After spending the lockout skating with HC Davos of the Swiss Hockey League, Loui Eriksson returned to a 2012-13 Dallas Stars squad that was amongst the worst in the Western Conference. Outside of Eriksson’s usual centerman, budding superstar Jamie Benn, the Stars didn’t have a great deal of depth or skill within their forward ranks. On the other wing with Eriksson and Benn was longtime NHL veteran Ray Whitney. Together, the three were relied upon to produce most, if not all, of Dallas’ offense last season.

Despite his team’s struggles, and the plight of now-fired head coach Glen Gulutzan, Eriksson still produced at his usual clip, scoring 12 goals and adding 17 assists in 48 games played. Those numbers translate to a 50-point (21 goals, 29 assists) year with a normal 82-game schedule.

FIVE FACTS

1) Eriksson began his professional hockey career at the age of 18, skating in his native Sweden for Frolunda HC of the Elitserien League. Frolunda has been one of the most successful player development factories in Europe over the past decade, as future NHLers like Henrik Lundqvist, Erik Karlsson, and Daniel Alfredsson have all spent time with the organization. PJ Axelsson, a longtime fan favorite in the Hub, spent eight seasons with Frolunda during two separate four-year stints.

2) Before ever even reaching the NHL, Eriksson had a pair of Rookie of the Year Awards under his belt. In 2004, his first year with Frolunda, the speedy Swedish forward was able to capture the Elitserien League Rookie of the Year title after scoring eight goals and adding five assists in 46 games played. Just two years later, Eriksson was named the AHL’s Rookie of the Year in his first season with the Iowa Stars.

3) Eriksson’s first goal at the NHL level came all the way back at the start of the 2006-07 season, in his first game wearing a Dallas uniform. The game (against Colorado) was won by the Stars in overtime on a goal from two-time Stanley Cup champion defenseman Darryl Sydor. To turn the clock back just a little further, other goal scorers in the game include Avalanche legend Joe Sakic and perhaps the greatest American-born player to ever lace up the skates, Mike Modano.

4) In 2011, Eriksson reached the NHL All-Star Game for the first time in his career. He certainly made the most of it, scoring two goals, including the game-winner, and adding one assist as Team Lidstrom edged Team Staal, 11-10.

5) In the winter of 2014, Eriksson will likely be headed to Sochi for his second straight appearance at the Olympics. Eriksson is no stranger to international play, as he scored three goals and added one assist in four games at the 2010 Olympics, and is fresh off the heels of a Gold Medal victory with Team Sweden at the 2013 IIHF World Championships.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2013-14

Eriksson was brought to Boston this summer as part of the most comprehensive forward overhaul the Bruins have made in the past half-decade. And despite spending most of his career as a left wing, the Black and Gold must be confident in his ability to adjust to playing on the right side.

In Boston, Eriksson will be a welcome addition to a Bruins’ second-line that saw multiple players struggle on the right side last season, despite the success of incumbents Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. First it was Tyler Seguin, who just couldn’t quite produce the way the Bruins were looking for. Next, it was trade deadline acquisition Jaromir Jagr who saw time on the Boston second line. While the veteran performed admirably throughout the stretch run, he was still held without a goal all postseason long, and never really seemed to be a good fit in Boston. At just 28-years old and with three seasons left on a low-priced, team-friendly contract, Eriksson could be Boston’s long-term answer at second-line right wing.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14

Skating alongside hockey’s premier defensive forward in Patrice Bergeron, Eriksson should have the freedom to focus on offense more than any other time in his career. Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Eriksson’s game is his tremendous vision and playmaking skills. Now that he’s finally been given the chance to play with a pair of top-flight scorers, I’d expect a breakout season out of Eriksson in 2013-14. Now, for a player whose reached the 70-point mark three times in his career, the numbers below may not seem like the typical “breakout season.” However, the difference is that with Boston, Eriksson will be featured in more of a supplemental role than he was in Dallas, one where he won’t have to be the superstar.

PREDICTION: 24 goals, 40 assists, 64 points, plus-17 in 79 games

Twitter: @_BWoodward
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