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Lots of questions arose when the Vancouver Canucks signed 31-year-old Loui Eriksson to a six-year, $36 million free-agent contract on July 1. Why would a team in decline sign a goal scorer in his prime to a big-money deal?
For the answer, look to Team Sweden, where Eriksson has slotted into the right side of the top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
The twins have had success with plenty of different linemates over their long NHL careers, but something special happened when they teamed up with Eriksson during the 2013 World Championship. After a tough start to the tournament by the Swedes, the team gelled when Daniel and Henrik joined after the San Jose Sharks eliminated the Canucks from the Stanley Cup playoffs in the first round—and lined up with Eriksson.
With the Sedins and Eriksson a force at five-on-fives and on the power play, the Swedes brought home the gold medal on home ice in Stockholm, with a 5-1 win over Switzerland. Eriksson had one goal and Henrik Sedin had two goals and an assist in the deciding game.
Before he even suits up next to the Sedins in Vancouver, Eriksson is doing it with Team Sweden. So far, the results have once again been impressive. Eriksson picked up three goals in Sweden’s first two games and served as a netfront screen when Daniel Sedin tallied on the power play in the Swedes’ final tournament tuneup against Team Europe.
The trio has been able to deliver consistent zone time and plenty of offensive pressure in the pretournament games. Expect to see that chemistry stay strong throughout the tournament, adding offensive punch to a strong Swedish team that also boasts a deep defense and world-class goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
The Swedes are contenders to compete for the World Cup title.