If you look up the word “disappointment” in the latest edition of Webster’s dictionary, chances are you’ll see this picture next to the definition.
Taken just mere moments after Loui Eriksson put the puck in his own net in his first game as a Canuck, the image came to exemplify his first season in Vancouver.
Not much went right for Eriksson, who aside from having one of the better goal songs on the team did very little of note in 2016-17. He finished the season with just 11 goals and 24 points, the worst totals of his career since his rookie year.
Eriksson failed to capitalize on his opportunities while playing with the Sedin twins, which left him playing alongside role players for much of the season. The results were mostly forgettable. After Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Eriksson’s most common linemates were Markus Granlund and Brandon Sutter. Eriksson managed just a single goal in 173 minutes while skating on that line.
Obviously, Eriksson’s season was disappointing by any standard, but luck appears to have played a significant role. Eriksson carried very low personal and on-ice shooting percentages relative to the rest of his career, and even based on the eye test appeared snakebitten for much of the season.
To his credit, Eriksson’s defensive play never eroded, as he finished the season with the third-highest score and venue adjusted shot-share among Canucks regulars. Eriksson also had a positive possession impact on all but one of his teammates.
While Eriksson’s individual shot rates have been on a slow decline over the past few seasons, they haven’t reached such a nadir as to explain his awful counting stats. Having a bounce-back 2018-19 season seems almost like a foregone conclusion at this point. Eriksson’s traditionally feasted on the power play, something he was unable to do across his first season in Vancouver due to unfavourable deployment. Hopefully that’s something that changes under Travis Green. With better linemates and better luck, it’s likely he’ll come closer to being what the Canucks envisioned when they signed him. It’ll be a long way to go before he earns that contract, though.