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Loui Eriksson is not the problem

Reports have surfaced that the Bruins may be looking to trade Loui Eriksson, as if he's the problem.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It's been pretty cold in Boston lately. Luckily, we've had plenty of steaming Hot Taeks® to keep us warm on these brutal February days.

Trade Chara. Trade Rask. Strip the C. Should of kapt Segiuunnn. Fire Claude. Indict Chiarelli. Make Cam Neely first-line center.

The most recent Hot Taek®, however, is that the Bruins should trade Loui Eriksson to clear cap space. Why, you may ask? Joe Haggerty's take is that he's making too much money for a "3rd line forward."

The take continues:

"They don't have enough size, grit and toughness on the wings anymore and I think he's part of that issue," said Haggerty. "Eventually they're going to have to trade him or just grin and bear it for the next year and move on from him. Because he's getting paid too much to be playing on the third line and he's not good enough to be playing on the top two lines."

This isn't meant to pick on Haggerty. On the contrary: what he says above represents something a wide swath of Bruins fans believe, and the quote above is just an illustration of that belief.

Here's the biggest problem with Loui Eriksson:

He's not Tyler Seguin.

"Whoa, BHN! That's a scorching take right there," you're thinking. I do tend to dabble in piping hot takes on occasion.

But it's true. Fair or unfair, Loui Eriksson is being measured as a Tyler Seguin replacement. Every time Seguin scores a couple in Dallas, some columnist or fan Tweets out the same "Tyler Seguin now has more XYZ than Player A, B and C combined." Every. Single. Time. (That doesn't mean the trade wasn't bad. It was.)

The retweets come pouring in, the fragmented English starts coming out, and on we go.

Eriksson was billed as the crown jewel of the Seguin trade (an idea that, in and of itself, is an indictment of Peter Chiarelli, but that's a story for another day), and is measured against Seguin constantly. It's a fairly absurd proposition, as no one with eyes would consider Seguin and Eriksson comparable players.

But what fans see is that Seguin went out, Eriksson came in, and Eriksson was supposed to slot in on the first line and take over Seguin's production. Seguin was a contender for the league scoring title before he got hurt, while Eriksson is chugging along with a respectable 13 goals (as of Friday night). They're two different players, playing two different roles.

However, media types paint Eriksson with the "BUST" brush because he isn't mirroring Seguin's production, which is ludicrous.

Another knock on Eriksson is that he's overpaid, making too much money for a third-line wing. Let's examine that idea.

Loui Eriksson is a third-line wing because Claude Julien plays Loui Eriksson as a third-line wing. Full stop. Eriksson has been given 35 5v5 minutes with David Krejci this year and 125 with Milan Lucic. In his time with Krejci, Eriksson has done pretty well. His GF60 is 6.92, GA60 is 1.73 and CF% is 52.5.

Those come with the "small sample size" caveat, but Eriksson hasn't done anything to show that he CAN'T produce with the "first" line; rather Julien has been hesitant to keep him there because he's done so well with Carl Soderberg on the third line.

With the "third line" label dismissed, we've come to "Eriksson is overpaid." Eriksson is the Bruins' fifth highest-paid forward, and is the third highest-scoring forward. How does that make him overpaid?

Let's look at Eriksson in terms of cost per point, the number of points a player has divided by his 2015 cap hit. I left out the new guys and the in-and-out guys.

Player Cost per point
Carl Soderberg $30,555
Reilly Smith $48,275
Chris Kelly $120,000
Loui Eriksson $132,812
Brad Marchand $150,000
Daniel Paille $162,500
Patrice Bergeron $171,052
Milan Lucic $193,548
Gregory Campbell $200,000
David Krejci $201,923

Hm. Overpaid Eriksson is the fourth most cost-effective forward. Go figure! There are some caveats, of course. Krejci's number is probably unfairly high, as he hasn't played in as many games. Carl Soderberg's contract is very cheap.

But compare Eriksson to the other regulars, like Bergeron, Kelly, Marchand, Paille and Lucic, and he seems to be doing just fine. He's been just as cost-effective playing smaller minutes with less-talented linemates.

Finally, the other knock on Eriksson: "he's just not a Bruins-type player!"

GOOD. The "Bruins-type player" people pine for is becoming increasingly rare (and increasingly irrelevant) in today's NHL. You saw what happened in a size vs. speed match-up last spring: big, lumbering guys getting frustrated.

Eriksson is a smart player, good on the penalty kill, has great possession numbers and tends to make those around him better. He's been one of the more reliable players on the team this year, and his line (with Soderberg and Kelly) has been the most consistent trio all season (which is part of the problem, really).

"He's got no grit!" The guy has taken some pretty big hits and come back to do just fine.

"He's soft!" That's a borderline xenophobic insult tossed at European players with regularity, and is completely baseless.

Who is going to replace him? The idea is that the Bruins need a top-6 wing. OK, sure. So you want to trade Eriksson to bring in....Chris Stewart, similarly paid guy who is better because he allegedly has the media-driven holy trinity of GRIT, SIZE AND TOUGHNESS?

The best-case scenario for a move like that is that it's a lateral one. Worst case? Eriksson's strong possession numbers leaving town have a negative impact on the team, the third line goes to hell and the Bruins have even more trouble scoring. Sign me up!

For those clamoring that Eriksson isn't putting up the numbers he did in Dallas, sure, that's true. But he's also suffered two major concussions, played with a merry-go-round of different linemates, and is playing in defense-first system that tends to squash offensive numbers for most players (see: Seguin, Tyler).

Eriksson is not the issue. Eriksson has been productive and has made the players around him better with regularity. Eriksson is not overpaid, and is a third-line wing only because his coach chooses to make him a third-line wing.

If you look at Eriksson the player instead of Eriksson the Seguin replacement, all of that becomes pretty clear.

Do the Bruins agree? We'll see. If not, get ready for a lot more Grit®, Toughness® and early playoff exits.