So yesterday the Flyers signed left-handed defensemen Erik Gustafsson to a one year $3 million contract. Either the Flames did mesh with him, or he didn’t like the Flames. They were playing him on the wrong side of the ice the whole time he was there. It is not the first time the Flyers scooped up an unsigned defensemen that the Flames had in their System, looking at you Phil Myers.
Before coming over to North American via the Draft, where he went 93rd overall to the Edmonton Oilers, Erik took a tour though his native country of Sweden. He played for Djurgardens IF in the J20 league, SEL (now SHL), Allsvenskan, and SHL. He also played two seasons for Frolunda HC. He put up 9 goals and 47 assists in 146 SHL games, not including playoffs.
He has represented Sweden in the Ice Hockey World Championship three times, winning Gold in 2018, where he recorded one assist in six games.
In 2015 the Edmonton Oilers did not retain his rights and he signed a two-year contract with the Blackhawks. He spent six seasons splitting time between the Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs. In 120 AHL games he recorded 11 goals, and 47 assists, that is honestly not bad at all for a guy coming over from Sweden, I have seen worse transitions. While in the AHL he was also being called up to the Blackhawks. In 214 games in Chicago he put up 28 goals and 88 assists.
He was then traded to Calgary where his production fell off of a cliff, granted the league did get shut down only 7 games into his time there. He rerecorded 26 points in 59 games with the Hawks before getting dealt for a third round pick. He also recorded 7 assists in The Bubble.
While I would have liked to see the Flyers bring in a Kevin Shattenkirk, Brodie, or some of the other big names that were out there, it really was not financially feasible, even with trading Ghost.
I think that Erik is not the ideal replacement for Niskanen, there was not really a player to fit his exact mold. But, two seasons ago in 2018-19, Erik put up 17 goals and 43 assists for 60 points. Matt Niskanen’s highest point total was 46 points in 2013-2014. Do I think Erik can do it again? Probably, depending who he is next to.
The Flyers Top 3 defenesmen in points last season were Provorov(36), Niskanen (33), and Sanheim (25). I do think that EG will be a great Top 4 defensemen with the Flyers, but off the score sheet I don’t think he can replace Niskanen. But you still have to remember that York, Friedman, Zamula, Andre, and Hogberg still on their way.
I think Erik will do just fine here with the Flyers. Is it January yet?