Last Thursday, Loui Eriksson was having dinner with his family at home in Sweden. A call interrupted their meal.
It was J.P. Barry, Eriksson’s agent. Barry asked his client if he wanted to waive his no-trade clause to become a Boston Bruin.
Eriksson did not require much time to make his choice.
“I talked with my family quick,” Eriksson said during a Monday conference call. “It was an easy decision for me to make that decision to go and play with Boston. I know it’s a good team. They really wanted me too. I’m really looking forward to that.”
Eriksson’s approval triggered one of general manager Peter Chiarelli’s boldest strikes. The Bruins acquired Eriksson, young forwards Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser, and prospect Joe Morrow for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley.
To give up on Seguin, the Bruins needed a dependable top-six forward who could fit their system. Eriksson’s history in Dallas indicates the wing will fulfill his new employer’s expectations.
Eriksson, an alternate captain in Dallas, drew praise for his thorough two-way game and professional approach. In 2007-08, Eriksson had 14 goals and 17 assists for the Stars, who lost to Detroit in the Western Conference finals. The Stars have not qualified for the playoffs in the last five seasons.
“It’s always tough when I played many years in Dallas and had really good times in Dallas,” Eriksson said. “I really liked it there too. But when I got the call and Boston was on the line, it was a pretty easy choice to say yes to that. I know Boston is a good team. It’s a different chapter for me to go there.”
Eriksson’s best season was in 2010-11, when he had 27 goals and 46 assists for 73 points. Ten goals were on the power play.
That year, then-coach Marc Crawford rolled Eriksson out for 20:34 of ice time per game, second among team forwards to Brad Richards (21:43). The playing time reflected Crawford’s trust in Eriksson in all situations. Eriksson averaged 3:23 of action on the power play and 1:21 on the penalty kill.
This past season, Eriksson registered 12 goals and 17 assists. Eriksson finished the season on the first line with Ray Whitney and Jamie Benn.
Eriksson acknowledged it was not the year he expected. During the lockout, he appeared in seven games for Davos, the Swiss club that also employed Joe Thornton and Rick Nash. Upon his return to Dallas, Eriksson did not find chemistry with regular linemates. Eriksson played both left and right wing.
“It was kind of disappointing for me,” Eriksson said. “It was a tough year for me. I’m looking to rebound next year.”
Eriksson will be joining a more stable group than the one he left behind. The upcoming season will be GM Jim Nill’s first year behind the helm. Nill, Ken Holland’s longtime assistant in Detroit, replaced Joe Nieuwendyk on April 29.
Nill then replaced Glen Gulutzan behind the bench with Lindy Ruff. The ex-Sabres coach would have been Eriksson’s fourth had he remained in Dallas.
“I’ve been through a lot of coaches,” Eriksson said. “It will be nice to find one that fits your style. It was tough the last couple years. We were changing coaches almost every second year. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the coach in Boston. I’m really looking forward to coming there to show I can play some good hockey too.”
Eriksson could continue to wear No. 21. Andrew Ference, the last Bruin to wear the number, signed with Edmonton last Friday.
If training camp unfolds without surprises, Eriksson should open the 2013-14 season on the No. 2 line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Eriksson’s hockey sense, speed, defensive awareness, and offensive creativity should make him a good fit as Bergeron’s right wing. By putting the three forwards together, coach Claude Julien will have a dangerous matchup line that will create scoring chances off its defense.
Fellow new addition Jarome Iginla should be the top-line right wing. Milan Lucic and David Krejci should be Iginla’s linemates.
“He’s a real good player in the league,” Eriksson said of Bergeron. “He’s been really good for many years. I think it will be a good fit for me to play with him. I know he’s a smart player. He can play a very good defensive style and also score goals. He can do a lot of things out there. He can be a really good fit for me. Hopefully I can make him better when I play with him.”
Eriksson plans to visit Boston this month. He will lean on a former Bruin for advice. P.J. Axelsson was one of the first to text Eriksson after the trade. Eriksson and Axelsson were teammates for Frolunda during the 2004-05 lockout.
Eriksson was also a junior teammate of Bruins forward Carl Soderberg.
Eriksson also will be arriving with fellow ex-Stars Smith and Fraser for camp. Eriksson said both are young forwards with good shots.
“Good addition to get,” Eriksson said. “They’re still young too. It will be nice to have them there with me.”
. . .
Carter Camper signed a one-year, two-way extension on Monday. The center will earn $550,000 if he plays for the Bruins. Camper will make $75,000 in Providence. Camper projects to be a top-two center in Providence in 2013-14. The 25-year-old is a clever but undersized pivot. The 5-foot-9-inch, 173-pound Camper had 10 goals and 37 assists in 57 games for Providence last season. Camper has dressed for three NHL games.