Vancouver Canucks: Loui Eriksson will improve in 2018

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 25: Loui Eriksson
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 25: Loui Eriksson /

Loui Eriksson disappointed in his first year with the Vancouver Canucks, but the $36 million dollar man is due for a bounce-back season in 2017-18.

Last summer, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning found the Sedin twins a new linemate, giving Swedish star Loui Eriksson a six-year deal worth $36 million.

It seemed like a major addition to the Canucks at the time, as Eriksson was coming off a 30-goal, 63-point season with the Boston Bruins. Daniel and Henrik Sedin needed a winger who could score, so the signing made plenty of sense at the time.

But Eriksson’s first year with the Canucks was extremely disappointing. He scored just 11 goals goals and 24 points — his worst season since Eriksson was a rookie for the Dallas Stars 10 years earlier.

Obviously, many are critical of Benning for handing out such a lucrative contract to a player in his 30s — considering the Canucks were especially supposed to be more focused on getting younger. The Canucks definitely gave Eriksson too much term, but he’s due to regain his scoring touch in 2017-18.

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Eriksson was unlucky in 2017

Eriksson has a career shooting percentage of 14.2 (according to Hockey Reference). His shooting percentage in 2016-17? 8.3. There’s simply no way it’s going to be that bad again for the six-time 20-goal scorer.

Per Hockey Reference, Eriksson owns a career Corsi For percentage (at even strength) of 54.0. It was a mere 50.5 last season, so there’s more evidence he’s due to rebound.

Heck, his Fenwick For Percentage at even strength was 48.5 percent in 2016-17 — well below his career percentage of 53.4.

Eriksson simply didn’t get the bounces his way last season. That’s the way hockey is, and the law of averages suggests he’ll get luckier in his second year with the Canucks.

New changes should benefit Eriksson

Former head coach Willie Desjardins didn’t have enough speed in the lineup to implement his system. Vancouver couldn’t possess the puck and they couldn’t transition well off the rush, so it was especially difficult for Eriksson to find his game under Willie D.

But new head coach Travis Green will have plenty of young players to play big roles in his lineup. This includes the reigning team scoring leader in Bo Horvat, elite prospect Brock Boeser and perhaps other youngsters in Jake Virtanen and Olli Juolevi.

Eriksson simply didn’t fit on a line with the Sedins. With all due respect to the franchise icons, they’re both slower, well past their playing primes and just aren’t able to cycle with the puck as move as before.

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For Eriksson, it’s a new coach with a new system. This means he should get to play with younger, faster and better linemates in 2017-18. Perhaps skating alongside Horvat will help Eriksson score 20-plus goals. Certainly more than the 11 he posted in his first year with the Vancouver Canucks.