Loui Eriksson is an amazing forward. There's an argument to be made that he's been our best player this season. He's brought it at even strength, on the PK, and on the PP with a consistency you can't say any other Bruins forward has had. He's on pace for 30 goals and 70 points, which would be the most successful season by a Bruin offensively since Marc Savard in 2008-09.
And that's why he should be traded.
Look, I don't like it. I love Loui. I love yelling Hinga Dinga Durgen whenever The Kingsman scores. But it's just the best way to manage this asset. Many people have this idea that you should only trade under performing players. When a player does bad, there are cries to "Trade him now!" and when he does well the cries say "No don't trade him!". That's a horrible mentality to have, folks. You want to buy low and sell high, not the other way around. And Loui's stock right now is probably higher than it ever will be again in his career.
Look around the NHL. A lot of teams need scoring help right now. The Ducks, the Bolts, the Pens, the Wings, the Kings, the Preds, the Blues and even the Wild could all use a forward like Loui. Those are also all teams that are trying to win now, and aren't looking at their long term. And hell, Loui could save one of those team's seasons. Those teams practically need Loui. And that's why they'll pay out the gosh darn butt to get him.
Look at deadline deals in the past few years, and you'll see players that aren't even in the same league commanding mouth watering prices.
Martin Erat and Michael Latta for Filip Forsberg in 2013
Calle Jarnkrok and Patrick Eaves for David Legwand in 2014
Erik Cole for two prospects and pick in 2015
Depres for Lovejoy in 2015
Freakin' Antoine Vermette for a first and a prospect in 2015
Do you know who Antoine Vermette is? Imagine Chris Kelly without the defensive ability and with the same cap hit. If an NHL GM was willing to give up a first and a prospect for that guy, imagine what Loui would be worth.
Here's some examples of actual good players getting traded on the deadline.
Alex Goligoski for James Neal and Matt Niskanen in 2011
Gaborik for Brassard, Dorsett, Moore and a pick in 2013
Jagr for two prospects and a first in 2013 (Remember that one?)
Vanek for Moulson, a first and a second in 2014
Ryan Miller and Steve Ott for Halak, a first, a prospect, and Chris Stewart in 2014
Martin St-Louis for Ryan Callahan, a first and a third in 2014
Sekera for a first and a prospect in 2015
Yandle for a first and Duclair in 2015
Coburn for a first, Radko Gudas, and a third in 2015
Now, to be fair, some of these weren't for guys on one year deals. But some were. And almost none of them were for players with the same level of quality as Eriksson. None of the forwards are elite two way players and 70 point guys. The closest comparable is probably the Ryan Miller trade. Eriksson could probably do for a playoff team what Ryan Miller was promised to do for the Blues. For their trouble, the Sabres managed to:
A. Get a first
B. Dump salary in Ott
C. Get a still valueable Chris Stewart, who was on 20 goal pace that year and the year before, and
D. Really didn't even have to downgrade that much by getting Halak
An analogous trade could be Loui and Seidenberg for a first, a 20 goal/40 point point type winger OR a number 3-4 D man, and ANOTHER 20 goal/40 point point type winger OR a number 3-4 D man. You could help your cap situation, get a much needed Dman, replace (but still downgrade) Loui, and come out of it with a first in just one trade. That's a trade that makes you better now and into the future.
Or what about the Coburn trade? Radko Gudas isn't much worse than Braydon Coburn, and he's 5 years younger with a much better contract. Hell, Radko Gudas could be just as good as Coburn in a few years. Would you trade Loui for a first and Loui Eriksson from 5 years ago? That's a pretty easy trade to make.
How about this trade for a comparable.
Milan Lucic to LAK for a first, Martin Jones (flipped to another first and Sean Kurlay), and Colin Miller.
This is probably the most realistic type of trade that I could see happen. Loui is a better player than Lucic, bar none. I think every one knows this. The Lucic trade was a stroke of genuis, in my opinion. The Bruins got probably 3x what they deserved to get for Looch. And with Loui, it would be very, very easy to make lightning strike twice. I think that negotiations for Loui, at a MINIMUM, start at two picks and a high level prospect, most likely more. That's also a package that almost all teams have at their disposal. The last time we made a trade like that, we got Zboril, Chiller, and still have a first rounder left to use. Zboril and Chiller could become a first pairing that you could build an entire TEAM around. Imagine how insane our pipeline will look after a second package of similar value.
The Kingsman will deliver us a kings ransom come deadline time.
And the alternative is most likely letting him walk. I know, it's nice to pretend we can resign him, but in the real world there's a salary cap. Those sorts of "3-4 years at 5 million" estimates are cute, but entirely unrealistic. He's on pace to score 30 goals and break 70 points, and on top of that he's an excellent defensive player and drives possession like nobody's business. Let's compare some stats for this season so far, shall we?
Can confirm its an 8-year, $80 million extension for Kopitar. The deal was signed less than an hour ago. Front loaded deal.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) January 16, 2016
Kopitar is 2 years younger than Eriksson, 2 years closer to his prime, and most of their stats are very comparable, with Loui getting the best of Anze. Now, I'm not saying Loui is going to get 80 million over 8 years like Anze, but holy crap people are predicting his cap hit will be half that, and that's just unrealistic. Players of his caliber, after seasons like the one he's having now, don't do simple million dollar raise contracts. Most likely, Loui knows that someone this offseason will be willing to give him too much money for too much term. And Loui owes it to himself and to his family to take that money and run. Try somewhere closer to 8 million for his next contracts cap hit, and now you're back down closer to Earth.
Now, let's look at who else needs raises?
In the next two years, these are the guys who need raises:
Ryan Spooner - 950k
David Pastrnak - 925k
Brett Connolly - 1 mil
Brad Marchand - 4.5 mil
Torey Krug - 3.4 mil
Colin Miller - 600k
Seth Griffith - 750k
Alexander Khokolachev - 800k
And here's the guys who are coming off the book:
Milan Lucic - 2.75 mil
Chris Kelly - 3 mil
Krug needs to be kept, as after Chara he's the closest thing we have to an NHL defenseman, and he's only going to get better defensively. He'll probably command at least 5.5 million, and that's being optimistic. Brett Connolly, if not a goal scorer, has at least shown himself to be the kind of third line player Claude loves. They'll probably want him long term, at around 2 mil per. Assuming neither Khokolachev or Griffith get traded, they're both NHL players now and they're going to want NHL sized contracts. Marchand is a very comparable player to Loui, only 3 years younger and his chemistry with Bergeron probably makes him even more valuable than Loui. He'll get a similar contract to Loui, too. 6-8 for 6-8. That's probably all your Lucic and Kelly money gone.
Now, the youngins. Miller, Spooner, and Pastrnak will probably need raises of 3-4 million... each. You've got two options with guys at their ages, coming off of their first ELCs. You can either give them "bridge deals" and end up paying out the ass after they have what's most likely their career years. That's how you end up with Toews, Kane, Subban, and Stamkos type situations. Not pretty. The other option is Seguin like deals. Pay them now, long term, and trust me it'll look like a giant bargain soon enough. As it stands now, even without Loui's contract we may not have enough to give them all smart deals.
He's also a player that long term, the Bruins just flat out don't need. Looking at the Bruins prospects, when it comes to wingers we're already set for a good long time. Vatrano, Pastrnak, Griffith, Khokolachev, Senyshen, DeBrusk, and even Connolly could all be better players than Eriksson by the time his contract is up. We aren't in desperate need of high scoring NHL wingers, and we really won't be for years to come. We're in such a good position that our leading 5v5 goal scorer, Matt Beleskey, can't even get himself a spot on the power play.
The way I see it, there's 5 guys (Krug, Miller, Marchand, Pasta, Spoons) who are all more important than Loui when it comes to getting signed. I don't really see anyway to keep all 5 of them and resign Loui. I'm not willing to sacrifice any of those guys for a guy who's on the wrong side of 30, will likely end up overpaid, and that we really just won't need in a number of years. Hell, even if you don't resign Loui you might not be able to get them all in.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there is some sort of razzle-dazzle trickery that can be done to fit all these guys under the cap. I'd say the odds are comically small, but there's a maybe.
But if I'm right, and there isn't a way to keep Loui? And we don't deal him by the deadline, then when July 1st comes he ends up walking? You're losing an embarrassment of riches for nothing.
I know it hurts. I love the guy too. I think he's an amazing, honestly underrated player and I wish he'd stay in a Bruins jersey forever. But this is the salary cap era NHL. You can't keep everybody.