Three years into his $36-million-US contract, Loui Eriksson has finally become paramount to the Vancouver Canucks. Which tells you how little he achieved on the ice the last three seasons and how much money the National Hockey League team has spent this summer.
The six-year contract Eriksson signed on July 1, 2016 almost immediately became one of those free-agency cautionary tales: a player about to pass his apex and plummet down the other side of his career trajectory, cashing in on a 30-goal season and leveraging a huge contract from a needy team willing to overpay.
It was, is, and will probably always be general manager Jim Benning’s biggest player mistake in Vancouver. But it was one he could afford. Until now.
Eriksson’s bonus-heavy contract has already paid the soon-to-be 34-year-old $27 million, for which the winger has contributed 32 goals over three seasons. But during that time, his contract was more embarrassing than harmful to the Canucks.
Eriksson can still play in the NHL. He’s a good penalty killer who has had some success in checking roles and, generally, doesn’t hurt Canucks possession considering how often he starts shifts in the defensive zone.