By: Nick Lanciani
The Boston Bruins have a big decision to make leading up to this year’s trade deadline. If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a lot of speculation surrounding Boston’s RW Loui Eriksson and his future with the franchise.
Based on the latest trades in the NHL, the market value of someone of Eriksson’s stature could yield more than enough to satisfy the Bruins front office for the next few years. Just think, the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to get two 2nd round picks (and Raffi Torres) from the San Jose Sharks for Roman Polak and Nick Spaling.
If the Maple Leafs could get two 2nd round picks for their fire sale, think of what the Bruins could get for a player on the verge of his best season since at least the 2011-2012 regular season and on pace to reach the 70 point plateau.
The fact of the matter is that Loui Eriksson is a very versatile player. Three years removed from the infamous Tyler Seguin trade with the Dallas Stars, Boston has finally seen what they expected all along from Eriksson on the ice. He goes to the right places, can be found on the rush and is dependable on the power play, if not deadly on special teams on a night-to-night basis.
Eriksson has 23-25-48 totals so far in 60 games played this season; already besting his 22-25-47 totals last season over 81 games played and significantly improving upon his 10-27-37 total production in an injury plagued 61 game season in his first year in Boston during the 2013-2014 run that culminated in a Bruins second round playoff exit to the rival Montreal Canadiens. In 12 career playoff games with the B’s, Eriksson has put up two goals and three assists.
The offensive upside to Eriksson’s game is crucial to his role as a top six forward. Yet, the 30-year old is on the final year of a six-year, $4.250 million AAV deal and is only expected to earn more, much more, in comparison to what the Bruins might be able to offer in an extension. Had the two sides discussed a deal much earlier in the season (prior to Eriksson’s rampage on the scoresheet), Boston might have been able to secure Eriksson to a similar deal to the one that is soon to expire.
He is a dependable forward that brings a lot more to the table than Nick Spaling will bring to San Jose. By comparison, Eriksson makes Spaling look like a fourth liner (if not a depth forward) on just about any NHL roster.
Compared to a player of similar caliber, but only a couple of years younger, Loui Eriksson could be raking in a well deserved raise similar to the 28-year old Anze Kopitar’s $80 million over 8 years extension with the Los Angeles Kings. Somewhere in the ballpark between $6.000 to $8.000 million AAV for any amount of time is well worth the chance for Eriksson to take the money and run.
And the Bruins don’t have the room for that. Granted, their salary cap crunch days are much better than last year’s numbers.
In the next two free agency cycles the Boston Bruins will have to resign a plethora of young stars including, Ryan Spooner ($950,000), David Pastrnak ($925,000), Brett Connolly ($1.000 million), Brad Marchand- who by the way is having a career year himself this year- ($4.500 million), Torey Krug ($3.400 million), Colin Miller ($600,000), Seth Griffith ($750,000) and quite possibly Alexander Khokhlachev ($800,000) assuming the Bruins don’t try to package the disgruntled Providence Bruin who has hinted at jettisoning the spoked-B for the KHL.
At least for Boston, they have some comfort in knowing that Milan Lucic’s retained salary of $2.750 million is coming off the books after this season and that forwards, Chris Kelly ($3.000 million) and Max Talbot ($900,000) may not be resigned. Kelly for sure will likely be forced to search for a job elsewhere in the league or face retirement in his comeback from a fractured left femur just 11 games into the season.
So it all comes back down to what is here and now- Loui Eriksson.
Without a doubt, Eriksson has a long future left in the NHL with any team in the league. Where he might end up is not necessarily clear, but the Bruins should seek to land a 1st round pick, a prospect, and a solid forward or top-4 defenseman at the very least in an exchange for just Loui Eriksson.
The more pieces you add to the puzzle, the more things appear to stack up in favor of Boston (at least from a negotiating side). The Bruins have plenty of chips to put on the table with Eriksson, Khokhlachev and even Kevan Miller (who’s superb on the physical aspect of defense and shot blocking) to offer to a team that’s on the border or well within the cutoff of the playoff picture. Bruins GM Don Sweeney also has a couple of 1st round picks that he could dangle in front of an attractive trading partner.
So while it might be sad to see such a productive player go in one of his best seasons, it just might be one of those classic examples of a “good hockey trade”- something reminiscent of when the Bruins brought in Phil Esposito or the like. Who knows, it just might be enough to put them in Cup contention for 2016.
(And as requested by our in-house music guru, Connor, he wouldn’t let me get away with the title without alluding to this).