Over the next few months, we'll be grading each player that played a significant number of games for the Dallas Stars in the 2008-2009 season. What's different about this feature is that you, the reader, determine the overall grade for each individual player. This is something we'll continue doing each season, and is a tool we can use to determine a player's progress year by year
#21 / Left Wing / Dallas Stars
Jul 17, 1985
$1,600,000 cap hit in 2009-10; RFA after 09-10 season
All stats used in this post courtesy of BehindTheNet.ca.
Key Stat: Had a team leading +14 rating for the season, despite having the lowest quality of teammates rating (-0.12) of any of the top six forwards. Also had just 14 PIM on the season, a career low.
The Good: Eriksson had arguably the best overall season of any Dallas Stars player. In his first full season in the NHL, he led the team with 36 goals and finished second behind Mike Ribeiro with 63 points. Eriksson emerged this season as one of the most dangerous scoring threats in the league. Finishing twelfth overall in the NHL in goals scored, he had a better shot percentage (20.2%) than every player that scored more goals than he did. That's a better shot percentage than Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Carter, Rich Nash and Eric Staal.
Eriksson scoring success can be attributed to a variety of reasons, yet the only one that counts is that when he had the opportunity to put the puck in the net he rarely failed to deliver. His ability to find the open spot in front of the net was impeccable and over half of the goals he scored were from within 10 feet of the crease. He doesn't possess wicked puckhandling skills or a tantalizing slapshot, but he has proven himself to be one of the smartest goal scorers in the NHL. His patience around the net is extraordinary and if given just a fraction of second of time, he has the ability to whip the puck on net in blistering fashion.
You would think that with as many goals as Eriksson scored this past season, a good number of them would have come on the power play. Yet he scored just seven of his goals with the man-advantage, an incredible stat considering the PP goals scored by the top ten players in the NHL. Eriksson became a sort of 5 on 5 specialist, a dangerous weapon for the Stars that thrives in front of the net.
The Bad: It was tough to really find much to complain about Eriksson's season in 2008-2009. He proved that while he was the team's top goal scorer, he was not a defensive liability (relative to the other top forwards on the team). He finished with a GAON/60 of 2.66, 8th worse on the team, yet still had a very respectable overall +/- of 8. And while he had one of the lowest quality of teammates ratings on the Stars, he faced the third toughest quality of competition on the team. Perhaps the one thing to harp on would be the fact that despite scoring 36 goals (12 more than James Neal, second on the team), he had just four game-winning goals and seven power play goals. Eriksson had a truly impressive season but for him to take that next step onto the level of elite goal scorers in the NHL, scoring the big, timely goals more consistently would be the biggest step in the right direction.
The Vote: Rate Eriksson below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.