Ericsson: The Luckiest Player in the NHL
It comes to nobody's surprise that even with some serious injuries this season, the Detroit Red Wings are still sitting pretty high in the NHL.
Even without their star goalie Jimmy Howard (finger), the Wings are not only on top of the Central Division, five points ahead of the St. Louis Blues, but also the Western Conference. The Wings have some star power in Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, and contributions from Filppula, Zetterberg and Hudler have given the team some great options in every game.
Is it safe to say that there are some players who need work? Of course.
Zetterberg's production may have gotten a slow start, but what the left winger lacks in goals this season he makes up for in assists (9 goals, 30 assists). Even Ty Conklin, the subject of much discomfort among fans, can be spared some harsh words based solely on the fact that he hadn't seen too much ice before the All-Star break.
So who then should be looked at to make a real turn around, even though it probably won't happen? That player happens to be Jonathan Ericsson.
Ericsson is a very interesting player to follow for Wings fans. First, he already isn't the most likeable of players. A lot of Detroit faithfuls were less than pleased at his new contract in 2011. The deal sees Ericsson getting paid $9.75 million over the next three years. It probably goes without saying that the general consensus is that he is not producing enough to justify such an amount.
So what has Ericsson been doing with all his time on the ice? Well, that's what the fans would like to know themselves. Surely Detroit's coach, Mike Babcock, has been asked about Ericsson's role on the team. But one can only guess as to how he would sugar coat such a response.
Over his five seasons with Detroit, Ericsson has only scored 10 goals and produced 32 assists. For a defenseman, some may see that as alright, especially for one that is in the shadow of a veteran like Nicklas Lidstrom.
This season, he only has a single goal and 8 assists, but with a +/- of 17, showing that Ericsson may, and that's a very generous use, provide some positive presence on the ice.
He isn't the first Wings player to stick around with such low production, but for a player that sees as much time on the ice as him, it is only natural to wonder how much better the team might be if he actually was a consistent player.
Aside from Jakub Kindl and Mike Commodore, he is the lowest producing player on the Wings roster this season (with consistent play time at least). Fellow Wings defenseman Ian White isn't too far behind Lidstrom in the points category, and even Niklas Kronwall has been solid with more than 20 points.
Should the Wings get rid of Ericsson? The answer is dependent on whether or not they can get any production out of him. Do they even want to do that? It's hard to see why they wouldn't. For a team that is looking like a Stanley Cup contender, as if they always aren't, shouldn't there be some depth on both offense and defense?
If Ericsson just wants the chance to wear an NHL jersey, maybe he should consider a move to Columbus.