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BOSTON -- He has played 501 games in the NHL, but Boston Bruins fans hardly know much about newcomer Loui Eriksson.
He arrived in Boston when Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli completed a megatrade on July 4, sending forwards Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Eriksson and prospects Matt Fraser, Reilly Smith and Joe Morrow.
It was a solid trade for the Bruins.
|Loui Eriksson is preparing to play on Boston's second line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.|
Many believe Eriksson is one of the most underrated players in the NHL. He's an effective two-way player, possessing skills at both ends of the ice. After the deal was complete, former Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson texted a few of his former teammates to give his seal of approval for his fellow Swede.
Axelsson even spoke with Eriksson to explain the rich history of the Bruins and the city of Boston.
"He said he loved to play here and it's a great town to play for. He said a lot of good things about Boston," Eriksson said.
When the new all-access "Behind the B" series aired last Monday, cameras were filming when Eriksson first arrived in Boston after the trade. He met with Bruins president Cam Neely and spent some time looking for a place to live and enjoyed the Italian restaurants in Boston's famous North End. Axelsson made sure to pass along all the important information on what it was like to live and play in this city.
"For sure it helps a lot because you can ask him different questions; where he lived and what kind of restaurants he went to. He had a lot of good answers for that, so it's nice to have that," Eriksson said.
As far as introducing himself to Bruins fans on "Behind the B," Eriksson said it was a bit different. He had to get used to it.
"It's good for the fans around here to see all the personalities," he said.
It was a good first glance of the perennial 20-plus goal scorer. His new teammates are well aware of his ability to contribute, and through just two days of on-ice sessions, it's evident Eriksson fits well into the Bruins' system of play.
Once the exhibition games begin, Eriksson will get a real feel for what it's like to play with new linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
"I think everyone is good in both ends," Eriksson said. "We're quick in transition and everyone can shoot the puck, too. That's something we need to do, shoot the puck a lot and things will happen if we do that."
His style of play has been compared to Bergeron's, and that's something in which Eriksson takes pride.
"Through all my years in Dallas, I tried to focus a lot on playing good defense and after that the offense used to come by itself. It's nice to have that and I always like to play that way, play good at both ends and that's how they want to play here so it's a perfect fit here for me.
"Every team is trying to play good defense. I've seen these guys play and they're really good at it, too. It's nice to come to a team that plays that way."
Like many of the players on the Bruins, Eriksson is versatile. He's a left-handed shot but prefers to play the right side. Bergeron explained recently it will take a little getting used to the fact that he'll be passing a lot to Eriksson's backhand, especially since Seguin was right-handed on the same wing.
"I've actually played both [wings] many times. The right side feels like it's a little easier to come in the zone and you get the one-timer a little bit easier when I'm coming in on the right side. It just feels good on that side," Eriksson said.
During his career in Dallas, Eriksson played against the Bruins only four times. He scored once and assisted on three other goals in those games. His new Boston teammates are still getting to know him, but fellow newcomer Jarome Iginla has plenty of playing experience (24 games) against Eriksson when both played in the Western Conference.
"He's a crafty player, a smart player and he finds ways to be effective in pretty much every game you play against him," Iginla said. "He's just a smart, skilled hockey player. It's great to play with him and I'm looking forward to seeing it more and seeing it on a daily basis. Yeah, he's definitely one of the guys you try to shut down when he was with Dallas and you have a hard time doing it."
While in the Dallas organization, Reilly Smith played a combined 40 games for the Stars in the last two seasons, so he also has a solid understand of Eriksson's abilities and how well he'll fit into Boston's system. In fact, Eriksson assisted on Smith's first NHL goal during Dallas' 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 15.
"Loui's a great forward," Smith said. "He's so skilled, so talented. He was one of the benchmark players for Dallas, so it was kind of shocking that they gave him up. I was pretty surprised about that. He's a great two-way forward and real easy to get along with. He'll fit into this organization really well."
Like Bergeron, Eriksson is a member of the 2003 draft class. The Stars selected him with their first pick (33rd overall), and Boston picked Bergeron with its second selection (45th overall).
"I know 2003 was a really good year drafting-wise and it's a lot of great players from that year, so it's pretty fun to be drafted in the same year," Eriksson said.
There are similarities between the two. Their style of play will complement each other well. Bruins fans may not know much about Eriksson right now, but it won't take long before they realize just how good he is.