March 1, 1954 |
Stora Tuna, Sweden
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight||190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)|
|Played for||Minnesota North Stars
Winnipeg Jets (WHA)
|NHL Draft||131st overall, 1974
Minnesota North Stars
Following a stellar performance at the 1974 World Junior Championships, Eriksson was selected 131st overall by the Minnesota North Stars, the first Swede ever drafted by the franchise. In the following two seasons, he would continue to excel in Sweden with Leksands IF. In 1975–76, he was named to the Swedish All-Star Team, and turned in a standout performance at the World Championships, recording 15 points in 10 games. That summer, he was signed by the North Stars and set high expectations for himself with a strong performance against NHL players at the 1976 Canada Cup tournament.
A tall, classy playmaking center, Eriksson would break into the NHL in 1976–77 with a splash, recording 4 assists in his first game to tie an NHL record. He wouldn't look back from there, finishing the season with 25 goals and 44 assists to set a North Stars rookie record (since broken) with 69 points. He led all NHL rookies in assists in points, but somewhat surprisingly finished only 3rd in Calder Trophy voting for the league's top freshman.
In 1977–78, Eriksson continued to be one of the lone bright lights on a woeful North Stars team which finished the season with just 18 wins. He led the team with 39 assists and 60 points, and was selected to play in the 1978 NHL All-Star Game.
Following his second season in Minnesota, Eriksson became an unrestricted free agent, and signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks. He was one of four Swedes to join the club for 1978–79, although he was the only one with previous NHL experience. Coming off an All-Star season in Minnesota, expectations were high, but Eriksson struggled badly. He found himself behind Don Lever and Thomas Gradin on the depth chart at center for the Canucks, and scored just 2 goals and 14 points in 35 games. He was ultimately released by the Canucks mid-way through the season, and finished the year in the World Hockey Association with the Winnipeg Jets. His previous offensive touch continued to elude him in Winnipeg, however, as he recorded 5 goals and 15 points in 33 games.
After the disappointment of the previous season, Eriksson returned to Sweden and Leksands IF in 1979. Aside from two years in Germany from 1980–82, he would continue to be a productive player in the Swedish Elite League for most of the 1980s. He last played in the SEL in 1989 for Västerås IK, and played a few more years in lower-tier leagues before retiring in 1992.
In 193 NHL games, Eriksson recorded 48 goals and 95 assists for 143 points, along with just 26 penalty minutes. He was also one of the most decorated Swedes of his time in international play, representing his country in 5 World Championships between 1976 and 1983 - winning two silver medals and a bronze - as well as the 1976 Canada Cup.