To complete the trade with the Dallas Stars for Eriksson, normally conservative Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli decided to give up on former No. 2 overall draft pick Tyler Seguin, but the bold move to risk future success for immediate improvement was a necessary one to make Boston a more well-rounded team.
Where the Bruins will benefit the most from acquiring Eriksson is getting consistent scoring at right wing and a strong two-way skill set that is perfect for head coach Claude Julien's defense-first style of play.
"[Eriksson is] a good two-way player," said Chiarelli in July. "He knows where to find the spots to score. Has a good shot, good release from either side. Can play on the [power play]"
"He can play the right side, and he has left-shot skill. He spreads out your power play. He’s a fast and a good two-way player. There’s a lot of his game that fits into how we play."
As a player who fights for pucks in the corners, creates turnovers with good stick work, plays a physical game and is well-positioned in all three zones, the 28-year-old winger is the kind of player Julien trusts. He's not going to hurt the Bruins in the defensive zone and can be relied on to backcheck consistently.
This defensive skill set is going to upgrade the Bruins because they were lacking this kind of talent and effort from Seguin last season.
Here's a quick snapshot comparing the two players defensively over the last three years (yearly averages).
- Eriksson: 50.3 takeaways, 34.6 blocked shots, 1:34 SH TOI/G
- Seguin: 23.3 takeaways, 14.6 blocked shots, 0:01 SH TOI/G
In the likely event that Eriksson is paired with perennial Selke Trophy candidate Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins will have a shutdown forward combo that could be matched up against opposing teams' top forwards each night.
From an offensive standpoint, Eriksson could easily become the Bruins' highest-scoring forward. In fact, he's outscored Boston's top player in each of the last three non-lockout seasons.
His primary role will be to replace the scoring production that Boston lost in the summer as a result of Seguin's departure and Nathan Horton leaving via free agency.
When you look at Eriksson's scoring totals from the past three seasons versus Horton's and Seguin's, the Bruins should feel confident that they've adequately replaced the offense lost at one of the right wing spots.
The Bruins have been a scoring-by-committee team over the last eight years. Since the start of the 2006-07 season, only Phil Kessel (2008-09) and Milan Lucic (2010-11) have reached the 30-goal mark.
Given Eriksson's ability to generate offense with his offensive awareness, accurate wrist shot and powerful one-timer, it wouldn't be surprising if the Swedish winger finds the back of the net 30 or more times next season.
Bergeron and David Krejci are better playmakers than any center Eriksson recently played alongside in Dallas, and both players will create plenty of quality scoring chances for him.
When comparing him to Seguin, Eriksson has similar game-changing speed, just as many one-on-one moves and the high-end offensive skill that Boston has lacked over the last few seasons.
Put simply, Eriksson is a player that Julien will be able to use in all types of situations, including special teams, five-on-five play and late-game situations when there's no room for error.
He's a reliable player in all three zones and will be highly motivated to win the first championship of his career. With more talent around him, the 28-year-old forward should enjoy a bounce-back season in 2013-14.
"I’m really looking forward to playing in Boston," said Eriksson in July. "It’s a real good team and for the last couple years they’ve been one of the best teams in the league."
"I was excited to get the call that Boston wanted me."
Nicholas Goss is an NHL columnist at Bleacher Report. He was a credentialed writer at the 2011 and 2013 Stanley Cup Final, the 2012 NHL playoffs and the 2013 NHL draft. All quotes obtained firsthand.
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