We are currently in the middle of our player reviews -- a brief look at the Stars' players from the past season.
Today's player: Loui Eriksson
The 24-year-old left wing (he turns 25 in July) has continued to improve each season. After playing in all 82 games in 2008-09 and collecting 63 points, Eriksson was once again durable in 2009-10. He played in every game and had 71 points, including a team-high 29 goals. He had 36 goals in 2008-09.
Part of Joe Nieuwendyk's plan is to identify the young, core players he wants to build his team around. Eriksson is one of those. He benefitted from playing with Brad Richards for much of the season, but Eriksson took advantage of the opportunity. He has an ability to create space on the ice, knows how to find the shooting lanes and can make things happen.
He is also one of the best defensive forwards on the team, which makes him so well suited to play with Richards. He gives them the possibilty to construct a top line that can be better overall on the road next season. Opposing coaches would try to match their best offensive players against the Richards line, which forced coach Marc Crawford to move James Neal off that line at times. But Eriksson's ability to play well defensively means he and Richards are probably linked together for the forseeable future.
Eriksson also showed this season that he can play with the top players on an international scale. He was a solid contributor to Sweden's Olympic team and looks like a key player for them into the future.
Eriksson has shown he's capable of putting together big-goal seasons. Can he be a 40-goal scorer? Well, he had 36 just two seasons ago and in a Crawford system that puts an emphasis on scoring opportunities, it sure seems possible. Eriksson sure will be fun to watch in the coming seasons.