NHL Statline: 30 goals, 33 assists, 63 points
Aggregate Grade: A-
Loui Eriksson is a really, really good hockey player who played like a really, really good hockey player should. The way he's made a name for himself.
Of course, the other reason was "being involved with a really controversial TRAED and not immediately being a 30 goal scorer". Concussions are a bitch.
Loui Eriksson has three things that differentiate him from the average player: silky hands, sneaky strength, and indomitable patience. All three together turned him into a 30 goal scorer. His first since 2008-9.
Indeed, Loui Eriksson was one of three players the Bruins can absolutely say they depended on this year (no guesses as to who those other two were...) and was able to give back to the Bruins through a lot of smart, silky smooth play that made him very valuable throughout the year. One of his largest strengths was indeed, his patience, and it came from him having to take up a very tough duty: deep in the slot forward in front of goaltender.
Conventional wisdom states that if you're going to have a player in that spot, you have to be on your guard when you're taking that particular attack strategy and you'd better have a bear of a player out there. Loui Eriksson is a decently sized player, but he's no Milan Lucic. What makes him so good at this? Simply put? Patience.
Eriksson knows that the second a rebound comes out, he's going to get swarmed by every opposing player on the ice. Second, he knows that the goalie will more often than not try to close off the angle. He uses both to his advantage, slipping out the way of panicking defenseman who could've sworn there's no way they lose a guy like Eriksson who happens to be right behind them and has been right behind them for the better part of 15 seconds, and being just patient enough to force the goalie to make a mistake. He's going to be up in the goalie's face. He's going to be shoved and bumped around by huge defensemen, and where there's a lapse in defensive coverage, he will be in that lapse ready to fire home a fantastic goal. Eriksson. Will. Be. There.
His incredible stickwork and low-key strength is something to be commended as well. While not exactly the fastest player on the ice by any stretch of the imagination, Eriksson makes up for it by being supremely difficult to knock the puck off of. He'll make it seem like he might lose it while he's reigning it in, then swipe it away from the defender at the last second as he brings it into position. Any defensemen making a wild swing at his stick will be doing so in vain, because he's not gonna budge as he races towards your goaltender. Or even if he's standing still. In many of his goals, Eriksson is very much swarmed by opposing defensemen or is well on his way to being tied up and an interesting thing stands out. They can't knock this guy over. At all. So in essence, he's able to make all the time in the world for himself. Leading to him being...you guessed it....patient. In a good way.
All that is good, but Eriksson's defensive efforts also place him in a league of even some of the more recent players the Bruins have brought on. He's perfectly willing to use that low-key strength to put into a forearm shiver that plants players to the boards so he can kick the puck out to an ally. He can easily get the puck out whether by individual effort or by a crisp pass. He can do it all, and he makes it look so simple.
It shouldn't surprise you then that the Bruins have made it clear they'd like him back, as they spent plenty of time during the deadline and now during the offseason attempting to resign the swede. Here's hoping they make sure to leave some room for the next guy in the gradebooks...
Eriksson has been a mainstay in international competition for Sweden for quite some time, and it should not surprise anyone that he's been selected for the World Cup of Hockey slated for this summer. Good luck to him and the rest of that star-studded roster.
Translated: He manages to make his teammates a much better group when he's on the ice and actively makes it impossible for the other team to both take shots and keep them away from their own goaltender. He is a possession monster that has been able to completely dominate the lesser competition he finds himself against in his current role, to fantastic success.
He may not always live up to the billing he received when THAT TRAED occured some time ago, but I think it's time we looked at the data, and his performance over the past three years and say...yeah, I guess this one wasn't such a bad idea after all.
Thank you, Seguin!