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Free agent frenzy

by Ryan Biech / Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks dipped their toes into the free agent market Friday signing Swedish winger Loui Eriksson to a six-year contract.

Eriksson posted 30 or more goals last year for the second season in his career, but he has shown that he can consistently put up 20 goals or more goals, as he has done that six of the past eight years.

The 30-year-old winger finished last season tied for 19th in the NHL in goals scored, and tied for 28th in points.

Looking at Eriksson from an advanced stat aspect, he posted a GF% of 63.3%. Which means, that when Eriksson was on the ice, his team scored 63.3% of the goals. That is a very high percentage for any player, and clearly demonstrates what kind of impact Eriksson can have. His points per 60 minutes of 1.96 P/60 would’ve been second on the Canucks last season behind Jannik Hansen.

It was clear that the Canucks were in need of a top six winger that could play with Daniel and Henrik Sedin and have signed a Eriksson, a player that they are already have history with. As they have represented Sweden together, and have shown some chemistry:

Those three will look build on that and lead the offensive charge for the Canucks.

What makes Eriksson even more attractive to the organization is that he plays a full 200 foot game. He isn’t a liability in his own zone, and isn’t afraid to carry the puck out of the zone when he causes a turnover. He does all this without taking penalties, as his highest PIM in one season for the last seven seasons is 14 PIM.

Given all this, it’s clear why Eriksson was a target for Canucks management. He will be able to provide a boost to the offence, which finished the season as the 29th ranked offence in the NHL averaging 2.27 goals for per game.

The Goteborg, Sweden native will also help to prevent goals for the Canucks, which with the addition of Erik Gudbranson, is something the Canucks also needed to improve on as they were ranked 24th in goals against averaging 2.94 goals against per game. He will also help the Canucks power play, after putting up 10 goals and 7 assists on the man advantage last season. There is no way to know what unit he will play on, but he will contribute there either way.

Those are the obvious ways that Eriksson’s addition helps the team, but there are other aspects of his signing that help the overall depth of the organization. It provides the team with depth within the forward ranks and helps alleviate the pressure on the young forwards. Furthermore, Eriksson will be able to slide up and down the lineup throughout the season without a missing a beat.

Suddenly the Canucks can roll out a few lines that will be able to generate offence in transition while boasting some offensive depth that can be moved around throughout the season.

It’s clear that the addition of Eriksson helps the Canucks in all three zones.

In other news, the Canucks came to terms with defenceman Philip Larsen, who they acquired from the Edmonton Oilers for a conditional 2017 5th round pick at the trading deadline February. Larsen had played for Jokerit in the KHL last season where he scored 11 goals and 25 assists in 52 games.

It was also announced today that the Canucks have come to terms with 24-year-old depth forward Michael Chaput, who leaves the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. Chaput is coming of a season where he posted 45 points in 63 regular season games and eight points in 17 playoff games en route to winning the Calder Cup with the Lake Erie Monsters in the AHL. He also scored one goal and one assist with the Blue Jackets in eight games last season.

That was followed by defenceman Chad Billins agreeing to a one-year contract with the Canucks. Billins concluded last season with Linkoping in the Swedish Hockey League, where he posted seven goals and 24 assists in 50 games. Billins played for the Abbotsford hear during the 2013-14 season.

The final signing of the day was Borna Rendulic, who split the 2015-16 season between the Colorado Avalanche and the AHL San Antonio Rampage. The 24-year-old appeared in three games with Colorado and 68 games with San Antonio, where he registered 38 points (16-22-38) and 41 penalty minutes.

Rendulic is a native of Zagreb, Croatia, and was the first player born in Croatia to sign a contract with an NHL franchise when he was signed by Colorado as a free agent two years ago.

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