WILMINGTON — With the media waiting to speak to him for the first time in person as a member of the Bruins, Loui Eriksson looked around for a good spot. He was directed to the locker he had taken over, putting his No. 21 helmet on the shelf above a locker that was occupied last season by the man he was traded for — Tyler Seguin.
He was asked if replacing Seguin would put additional pressure on him, especially as a player that many Bruins fans haven’t seen much.
“Maybe a little bit, but that’s how it is to play this game,” Eriksson said Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena, where some Bruins had assembled for captain’s practice. “You have to have pressure on you. I think everyone is ready for it. So I’m just going to do all I can to prove to all the guys here that I’m a good player.”
Eriksson, 28, certainly proved that in Dallas, having scored at least 26 goals in each of the last four non-lockout seasons, and 12 goals and 17 assists last season. He scored at least 71 points in three of those years. In his 501 NHL games, Eriksson has 150 goals and 207 assists for 357 points.
The Swede is likely to replace Seguin on the Bruins’ second line, as well as in that dressing room locker, with his skills matching up well with those of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
“I think it adds a lot,” Bergeron said last week in Calgary, Alberta, at Team Canada orientation camp, referring to his potential linemate. “I know him, but I don’t know him as much as some guys out West do. From what I’ve heard, also seen playing against him, he’s a two-way player. He’s got a knack for finding the right spot in the offensive zone and finding ways to score goals. And he’s relentless on the puck.
“It’s attributes that go well with the Bruins and what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s something great. He’s going to be a great addition for the team.”
Eriksson seems eager to prove to his teammates and Bruins fans exactly why he is so often referred to as “underrated.” Part of that, of course, is that he played in a hockey market without the same fan support as Boston. Part of that is the style that Eriksson plays on the ice, more defensive-minded than most wingers. Usually, that two-way play is reserved for centers — with Bergeron one of the best in the league at it.
“I’m an all-around player,” Eriksson said. “I like to be playing in both ends. Usually I play a lot, too. It’s just fun to be out there and play, and I’m trying to do the thing I’m good at and that’s scoring goals and playing good defensively, too. So I’m really excited to see the system here and play in it.”
Eriksson spoke with coach Claude Julien Monday, but they have not had extensive discussions about the winger’s role with the Bruins.
As winger Milan Lucic, also at Team Canada orientation last week, put it, it would make the most sense for Eriksson to join the second line, with fellow newcomer Jarome Iginla skating with Lucic and David Krejci on the top line.
“You would think that would be it, but that’s obviously a decision for Claude,” Lucic said. “We kind of talked about it briefly here these last couple of days and he said he doesn’t really know yet and he’s going to try both out in training camp and see what works better.”
As Eriksson gears up for training camp, he has been turning to another member of the Bruins staff for advice. Fellow Swede and newly hired Bruins scout P.J. Axelsson “said a lot of good things about Boston,” Eriksson said. “He really loved it here, so just a great town to play in and great fans. It’s a really good organization, too, he said. He had a lot of good things to say about Boston.”
Eriksson will see that soon enough.
For now, in the days before training camp officially starts, he is more concerned with simply meeting his teammates, getting to know them, and getting on the ice in a more relaxed environment than it will be next week.
Eriksson, unlike the rest of his new team, has had an all-too-long break. (As he put it, “It’s been a kind of long summer for me, so I’m really ready to go.”)
“It feels really good,” he said. “It’s nice to finally get here. I got in Saturday, so it’s nice to see some guys here and go on the ice a little bit and skate around and just have fun.”
Part of the enthusiasm comes from playing for an Original Six team, Eriksson said. Plus, he added, “They have a little bit more fans here than in Dallas. So I’m probably going to get more recognized here.
“I’m excited to be here. I’m going to do all I can to help this team win.”