Dallas Stars 2003 second round draft pick Loui Eriksson is proving to be worth the pick after battling through a scoring drought in November. The 20-year-old Swede started the season strong enough with three goals and four assists in eight October games, but a goal and an assist Nov. 26 against the Peoria Rivermen were Eriksson’s lone points in November. His three goals and four assists in 13 December games were good enough, but the New Year has brought a new, confident Eriksson to the Iowa Stars line-up.
The winger started 2006 with a four-game point scoring streak, three goals and three assists, and had his first two-game in AHL action Jan. 26 with power play tallies in a 6-4 victory over Houston. After 45 games, Eriksson has 14 goals and 15 assists, third in I-Stars team scoring and first among Iowa rookies. His seven power plays goals tie him with veteran Toby Petersen for the I-Stars team lead. With eight goals in his last 13 games, skating with Petersen and Junior Lessard, the 6’1 183-pound rookie is scoring in a big way.
Although Eriksson is a rookie to North American pro hockey, he has two seasons of Swedish Elite League experience with the Vastra Frolunda Indians. Eriksson has also represented his country at the 2003 IIHF U18 World Championships and the 2004 and 2005 World Junior Championships. His two goals and three assists at the 2005 WJC’s placed him third in Sweden scoring behind Johannes Salmonsson and Carl Soderberg. A couple months before he was drafted in 2003, he paced Sweden in scoring at the U18’s with six goals and two assists.
Hockey’s Future caught up with the speedy Swede after a recent game and discussed his recent production, the adjustments he’s had to make to his game, and his impressive past in Sweden.
HF: You’ve really started to bury the puck of late, you were a big scorer in Swedish juniors, what’s changed recently?
LE: It’s a little bit different from Sweden. It’s a good speed here. It’s going good
HF: You’ve really started to bury the puck of late, what’s the source of this surge?
LE: I don’t know. I’ve felt really good the last 10 games I think. Playing with Petey and Lessard, it’s a good line. It’s nice to score.
HF: You’re an AHL rookie, what are some of the adjustments you’ve had to make to your game coming from Sweden?
LE: I’ve talked a little bit with coach, keep it simpler and play it up the board, and if you have nothing, give them nothing, go to the goal.
HF: What has it been like skating on a line with Junior Lessard and Toby Petersen?
LE: It’s a good line. It’s two good players, Lessard is a real good scorer and Petersen is a good player, both defense and offense, everything.
HF: What would you say your strengths are as a player?
LE: I would say my skating, I have good skating power. I have a pretty good shot and I go to the goal.
HF: What style of game do you like to play?
LE: More offense, I think, but it’s fun to play whenever you play.
HF: What are you working on so that you can play in Dallas one day?
LE: Go up a little bit in weight and get stronger. It’s happening and I work every day, harder and harder.
HF: Last season with the NHL lockout there were more NHLers playing in Sweden than normal, did having more NHLers in the SEL help your development by providing superior competition, or hurt your development by reducing ice time?
LE: I got less ice time, but it was on a really good team. I played with Alfredsson, Axelsson, and Backman, those are some good guys. I learned a lot from them.
HF: You’ve represented Team Sweden at the U18’s and the World Junior Championships, how does it feel to represent your country?
LE: It’s good. It’s fun to play for your country and try to win. We had a good team I think, but we didn’t go as far as we thought.
HF: Do you hope to continue playing for Team Sweden in the future in the World Championships, World Cup, or the Olympics?
LE: Of course, of course. I want to play there soon. Maybe someday I’ll play there soon.
HF: Would you rather win Olympic gold or the Stanley Cup?
LE: Both, both.
HF: Who were some of your favorite players growing up?
LE: Peter Forsberg, I like Sergei Fedorov too, Wayne Gretzky and everybody. I like a lot of them.
HF: Are those the type of guys you model your game off of?
LE: Yeah, I like to play Forsberg’s style.
HF: What was it like to skate with Dallas at training camp in September?
LE: It was pretty cool, playing with (Mike) Modano. There were some really good guys there. I played two games and it went pretty good. It was really fun.
HF: Does playing in training camp help you learn where you’re at compared to NHLers and what you need to work on?
LE: Yeah, exactly. You can see where you are and just keep on working harder, and someday maybe I’ll be there.
HF: You attended a developmental camp with Dallas this summer, what did they have you do there?
LE: They had some practices and some tests. All kinds of tests. Played some games against each other and come together with all the guys.
HF: What were some of the tests they had you do?
LE: Did some running tests, some push-ups, sit-ups, stuff like that.
HF: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
LE: Just keep playing good like I’ve been playing now, the last few games here, and just work hard. Someday I want to play in the NHL, so I’m working very hard to get there.
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