The Loui Eriksson narrative has been done to death. Should you choose to continue reading, you won’t find yet another “the Canucks need to find a way to trade Loui” piece, that is a promise. It’s done. That was 2019. No more Gangnam Style, no more Mambo #5, no more Kermit memes. It’s time to play for keeps.
It’s no secret that his contract is not one Loui’s #littlethings, but he’s finally becoming a valuable member of the Vancouver Canucks since being placed on a line with Bo Horvat. He’s not going to return to 30-goal form and he won’t be QBing the PP anytime soon but the sum of all those little things is finally adding up.
Eriksson has been the ideal utility forward for the Canucks this season. He’s been solid defensively and on the PK, and he’s eaten up late-game minutes to secure his team’s victory. Add to that Eriksson’s knack for the empty net along with linemate Tanner Pearson’s silky 200 ft game and that $36 million might not look so bad before it’s all said and done.
Let’s break down the man, the myth, the legend, Loui Eriksson and his statistical glitter-bomb.
Everyone is pining for goals, assists, points, PPG’s and the ever-impressive shorties. Elias Pettersson leads the Canucks in goals (21) and points (50) but when Eriksson gets the nod to get in the dirty areas his HDGF% is sitting nicely at 53.33%. He’s not a power forward by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s helped get the puck to the dirty areas in the offensive zone, and he’s helped keep the puck out of the dirty areas in his own zone. He’s second only to EP in HDCF% at 55.77 to Pettersson’s 58.12.
He’s digging around and helping his team win the puck-possession and expected-goal battle. His former glory may be long behind him, but he’s still performed like one of the Canucks’ best forwards, posting a 51.84 xGF%, fifth on the team behind Pettersson, Miller, Hughes, and Boeser. Travis Green has taken a chance and put Loui on a line with Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson and for whatever reason, it seems to be working.
Horvat and Pearson have generally been solid defensively, but Eriksson has helped them reach another level, and his ability to help the Canucks close out games have given him the opportunity to show off the kind of late-game heroics that have made him a folk legend around B.C. Here’s an example from the other night against Arizona:
This effort by Loui though to setup Pearson's 100th career goal. pic.twitter.com/iKBYRkJOwu
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 17, 2020
Loui doesn’t lead the Canucks in ENG but he’s helped Tanner Pearson get to four and Loui’s two empty-netters were memorable. Take that a step further and those two are combined for 10 empty-net points this season.
Going back to the newly cemented line “Lou-Bo-Peep” (that’s mine, don’t steal it) they have held court against some of the toughest matchups in the league. With a combined 52.01 CF%, 53.33 GF%, 56.25 HDCF%, and a ridiculous 66.67 HDGF%, the early returns on LBP have been overwhelmingly positive.
Running with Bo Horvat has been a match made in Heaven. While it may seem like Eriksson is just benefiting from playing with more skilled linemates, the reality is that when Eriksson is taken off that line Bo and Tanner’s numbers drop heavily. The Corsi drops a point to 51.20%, the GF% sinks a massive 10 spot to 43.48%, the HDCF% goes from high-danger to just danger at 50.91. Sure, Horvat and Pearson have played a lot more minutes together, but when Loui isn’t there the big freefall is their HDGF% parachuting a colossal 13.73% to 52.94%.
The mainstream stats that win the awards aren’t going to bless Loui Eriksson this season, but his overall game is starting to put the Canucks in a position to compete past game 82.
I don’t know if his recent stretch is enough to take him from pariah to fan-favourite, but the team likely wouldn’t mind hanging on to him if he can continue his rise.
He’s doing more than the rest of his UFA class and the threat of being on waivers seems like an eternity ago. Vancouver is cashing in on the $6 million dollar man, just not in the way they envisioned.