Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 20 or more games this season (and are still with the team) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
#21 / Left Wing / Dallas Stars
Jul 17, 1985
|2011 - Loui Eriksson||82||26||45||71||18||12||5||2||3||187||13.9|
Key Stat: +18. That's the best mark of his career and he did it playing on different lines for various chunks of the season. That led the Stars this year and was #10 among all left-wingers in the National Hockey League. The key stat could just as easily be $4.25 million, as in his cap hit. Dallas will pay that, and only that, for his considerable services for the next four years as he enters his prime at just 26 years of age.
The Good: Ordinarily I'd dig into some advanced metrics here, tell you about his scoring chance numbers, or some other obscure thing that illustrates how good Loui Eriksson is and how essential his presence has become to this team, but allow me to venture far into the intangible on this occasion. Being around media in the press box who have watched a LOT more hockey than I have is a great way to see who those "in-the-know" truly admire. Loui Eriksson is at the top of that list. Watching him in person, his hard work both near and away from the puck inspire awe in the most experienced of hockey minds. He is truly becoming a "king of the little things", a la Jere Lehtinen (or as close as we're likely to see any time soon, anyway). His scoring is automatic. His efforts elsewhere make those around him better. That's the mark of an elite player.
The Bad: Finding something bad to say about Loui Eriksson is quite a chore, and one I'm not going to work very hard on at that. He fades from the score sheet for periods of time if you look at the game log, most noticeably at the end of the season. In the eight games leading up to Dallas' elimination Loui was held scoreless in seven of them, recording a -2 rating in that span. At a time when the Stars needed their best players to be their best players, so to speak, Eriksson was unable to contribute in tangible ways. He was also part of the power play that...we've talked about and talked about.
The Bottom Line: At 71, 73, and 71 points in his last three seasons, Loui Eriksson has really found his stride in this league, but the best part is that he could be even better if he played on, pardon the expression, "a good team". That's a problem for Joe Nieuwendyk to tackle this off-season, but Eriksson's fate could be tied up with Jamie Benn's in a way. The two have an undeniable chemistry that was broken via separation this season, owing to the need to use Benn to check teams' top lines and a need to replace Brenden Morrow on Ribeiro's left. With the appropriate talent added, either on Ribeiro's line or on Fiddler's to form a more competent, true checking line, Loui Eriksson could be unleashed along with Jamie Benn as the two possession-hounds reach new career highs. As it was this year, Loui Eriksson was stuck putting out fires on the Ribeiro line down the stretch and still put up 71.
The Vote: Rate Eriksson on a scale of A to F (A being the best of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.