Come this Friday, Loui Eriksson will be one of the bigger names to hit the open market. He’s coming off one of his best seasons in recent memory, tallying 63 points (30 goals, 33 assists) and is sure to have a number of suitors. The Devils were reportedly one of a number teams to be interested in the free agent winger a couple of weeks ago, but nothing further has come of that to this point. Regardless of whether the team is interested or not, he’d certainly help the Devils fill a big need on offense.
As mentioned above, Eriksson had one of his best seasons in a few years in 2015-16. He scored at a rate of 1.96 points per 60 at even-strength, which was 35th best in the league for forwards with 1000+ minutes. That mark was also third best on the Bruins, just behind David Krejci and Brad Marchand. He was a 52% possession player and had a +21 goal differential at even-strength and was a steady scorer at even-strength, which is one of the biggest needs for the Devils. On the season, he scored 16 goals and 21 assists at 5v5. Only Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand scored more even-strength goals for Bruins this past season. His even-strength point total (37) also tied David Krejci for the team lead.
Eriksson’s play last season is indicative of how’s he played over the last few seasons. His Corsi from 2013-16 is 53.9%, and he’s never been lower than 51.1% over the last four seasons. He’s also scored at a rate of 1.75 points per 60 from 2013-16 (via Hockey Analysis). He’s recorded more shots on goal in each year over the last three seasons with one hundred fifteen in 13-14, one hundred sixty-nine in 14-15, and one hundred eighty-four in 15-16. He’s not just shooting the puck either. He has a knack for finding the back of the net. His shooting percentage during that time is 13.2%, which is right about on mark with his career average of 13.9% and he hasn’t gone on a crazy shooting percentage tear in any of those seasons. With those increases in shots on goal, his point totals have also increased in each of the last three years from 37 to 47 to 63. His goal totals have also increased each of the last three seasons from 10 to 22 to 30.
Eriksson would be a great fit for the Devils, but he’s going to cost a lot. Ray Shero will make some signings Friday, but is unlikely to go on a big spending spree. The Devils could definitely take a run at Eriksson. He is 31 years old, but unlike David Backes or Andrew Ladd, he doesn’t play a physical style of hockey that will lends to him aging faster than either one of Ladd or Backes. His play over the last three seasons also indicates that he isn’t slowing down and will still be productive for the foreseeable future.
The Devils are in desperate need of scoring, especially at even-strength. Eriksson had a great 2015-16 at even-strength for Boston and has done so over the last few seasons. He can contribute on the power play and fills a need for a scoring winger. He’s also logged big minutes for the Bruins. Over the last two seasons, he’s averaged 18:29 and 19:29 minutes of ice time. There’s a lot to like about his game and if the Devils are going to spend big money on a free agent, he’s one target that makes sense for them along with Kyle Okposo. Whether Shero decides to spend big money remains to be seen. With free agency just three days away, we should find out soon enough.