Jonathan Ericsson had a surprisingly good start to the season, especially after he spoke about having hip problems and decided to defer having surgery. Ericsson has been the bane of fans existence for years now and it’s mainly because of the top-2 role the coach tried to put him in. This year saw a change, he spent most of his season in the bottom 2 with Alexey Marchenko. This saw some improvement in his game as he wasn’t being put up against the top players in the league. Ericsson’s season was shortened when he fractured his wrist in a game against the Washington Capitals on February 9th. Ericsson played 51 games and scored 8 points.
Ericsson’s overall stats have not changed much. Despite Blashill wanting the defenseman to be more offensive and join the rush, his shots generated numbers have decreased. His shot conceded and shot impact is still bottom 2 which is thankfully where he spent most of his time this year. Luckily the above chart does not take into account the amount of goals Ericsson scored for the opposing team this year, I think the count was at least 4 or 5.
(Stats courtesy of NHL.com)
Ericsson only scored 1 goal which is not a surprise but it is a shame as he has such a good slap shot but doesn’t break it out very often. Ericsson averaged 1.24 penalty minutes a game. After the Ottawa Senators game where Ericsson fought Dion Phaneuf and got a puck to the face, Blashill came out and said he appreciated what had happened and “we didn’t do it enough last year”. Ericsson is staying steady on his numbers not improving, not overly declining either in the stats. However the eye test tells another tale, he is getting slower and this can be attributed to his hip problems but if we’re honest he was never a speed skater.
(Stats courtesy of puckalytics.com)
This year CF% comes in at the lowest of his career and places him third last amongst the D-Core. The contributing factor to this career low stat is that Ericsson was utilised for more defensive zone starts then his was offensive so realistically his CF60 was going to decrease and his CA60 was going to increase. Ericsson is easily tripped up in the defensive zone if he is opposing a fast skater and this also attributes to his high CA60%.
(Stats courtesy of puckalytics.com)
Ericsson was the highest ranked Red Wing defenseman which is an improvement after last season. This stat is probably a result of being on the bottom pair and having easier assignments or could also be that he was adopting Blashill’s system and joining the rush. Now in saying that, he is on the ice for nearly as many goals for as he is against, so he is really cancelling one out with the other.
Is it too much to hope Ericsson will waive his no move clause to be exposed in the draft expansion (probably)? The Las Vegas Golden Knights will need a veteran presence in their locker room and really who expects them to be good in their freshman year anyway? Ericsson will be much the same player he has been for the last 10 years but again slower due to his age and health issues and unless something dramatic happens to the D-Core Ericsson will stay in the bottom pair for next year.
This season saw flashes of above average play and of course true to Ericsson fashion complete fails (goals scored for other teams). Ericsson’s overall play has declined and will continue to decline due to age and hip issues, as long as the coaching staff keep him in the bottom pairing he will be a serviceable defenseman. The frustration is that his contract is until 2020 and he is taking up a roster spot that could be better utilised by a rookie or young defenseman.