With another NHL season coming to an end, the focus is rightfully so on the playoff races and the Dallas Stars struggle to win the Pacific division. But with the end of another season comes the yearly awards. While we won’t know the nominees until after the season is over, and the winners until the summer, it is safe to say certain players will be in considered for certain awards. After being nominated for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy last season, it is very likely that Loui Eriksson will be in consideration for the award this season.
While Loui was nominated last season after Brad Richards was a finalist two years ago, no Dallas Star (or Minnesota North Star) has even won the award. The historic award is annually to someone that exhibits sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. While the award is not as big as the Hart or Norris, but it regularly goes to a player that can dominate games offensively but is over-looked or underrated. Loui Eriksson exemplifies those qualities.
If you remember an earlier poll this season, Loui Eriksson was named the most underrated player in the league by his peers and his abilities are still overlooked. After being nominated last season with 27 goals and 73 points last season with only 8 penalty minutes, Eriksson lost out to Martin St. Louis (who won for the second year in a row). But Eriksson might have a better case to win this season. With the Stars expected to have another rough year and their offense in question after the departure of Richards, many speculated that Eriksson and Jamie Benn would suffer and possibly have down years. But through 77 games, one could argue that Eriksson has stepped up and had a better year.
With the Stars and Glen Gulutzan shuffling the lines regularly, Eriksson has put up 26 goals and 70 points while again keeping the “gentlemanly” side of his game with only 10 penalty minutes. But the impressive stat is that his plus/minus has jumped from +10 t0 +20. He has again showcased that he can play both sides of the puck and that he has become one of the best two-way wingers in the league. While he is a 25-30 goal threat, he also shows his skills and abilities in all zones and again has done it while playing like a true gentleman. He could see competition again in the form of St. Louis or four-time winner Pavel Datsyuk, but both haven’t shined as much this season. He could also face new-comers Matt Moulson (another highly underrated winger) and youngster Jordan Eberle (another one of Edmonton’s amazing young forwards who will only get better). But looking through at the candidates and their bodies of work, Eriksson looks like the favorite this season. With another 70-point season he has become one of only four active players with three straight 70-point seasons, something only Joe Thorton, Steven Stamkos, and Henrik Sedin have accomplished with him.
Of course nothing is known until after the season is over, but the stats and accomplishments already point towards Loui having a strong chance at being a finalist again. And taking all things into consideration, my early vote is with Loui Eriksson. But my vote doesn’t count (at least not yet), and just maybe I’m biased. But it is time Eriksson gets some recognition.