After an overall solid rebound season in 2021-22 as a member of the Arizona Coyotes, it appears that veteran winger Loui Eriksson is going to be continuing his career as a professional hockey player in Europe next year. According to Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports, the 37-year-old is still interested in playing, likely headed to his native Sweden, but has been looking at opportunities in Switzerland as well (link). Hearing that Eriksson could head overseas isn’t necessarily surprising, given his struggles to produce and diminished roles the past few seasons. However, demonstrating his health and a return to regular minutes this season meant there wasn’t much surprise that Eriksson still has something in the tank to offer.
The Gothenburg-born winger began his career as a second-round draft pick of the Dallas Stars in 2003, debuting for the team during the 2006-07 season. He would spend seven seasons in a Stars uniform before being dealt to the Boston Bruins in the summer of 2013 as the centerpiece of the trade that sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas. Eriksson would spend three seasons in Boston, capping his time off with a career-best 30 goals in 2015-16. That offseason, almost three years to the day that he was traded to Boston, Eriksson signed a six-year, $36MM contract with the Vancouver Canucks.
The Eriksson-in-Vancouver era did not work out at all as either side had intended, the forward immediately regressing to just 24 points in 65 games in the first year of the deal, never returning to the player he was in Boston and Dallas. Last summer, he was dealt in the Oliver Ekman-Larsson trade as a sort of cap-dump, with the Coyotes hoping he could serve as a veteran mentor to their younger players. Eriksson was able to provide just what Arizona needed and even had something of a comeback, getting into 73 games, the second-highest total since he left Boston, putting up 19 points in the process.
Showing he could stay healthy and play every night while offering some production has rebuilt Eriksson’s value to an extent. Though it may not be enough to keep in him in the NHL, whether that’s from a lack of offers or lack of an offering worth keeping him in North America, it appears now that a chance closer to home could be a real possibility. Growing up in Sweden, naturally Eriksson has plenty of experience with Swedish hockey, spending much of his development in the Frolunda organization. But, if the veteran chose to head to the Swiss league, it wouldn’t be his first time, as he spent time with Davos during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 NHL season.
If the 2021-22 season was Eriksson’s last in the NHL, he walks away with an all-around solid resume despite his later struggles. Eriksson would finish his career with 253 goals and 360 assists in 1,050 career regular-season games over 16 seasons. Additionally, he added 14 points in 44 career playoff games, spanning four appearances with Dallas, Boston, and Vancouver. Never winning a formal award, Eriksson did finish with votes for the Lady Byng and Selke trophies numerous times and was a three-time All Star.