Defenseman Erik Gustafsson was released from his professional tryout by the New York Islanders and is expected to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks, per Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports Gustafsson signed a one-year deal worth $800,000.
Chicago brings Gustafsson into the fold after a slew of recent injuries on the blueline, including Wyatt Kalynuk and Caleb Jones. The team was down to just six defensemen with any notable NHL experience on the active roster, having already assigned Nicolas Beaudin to Rockford in the AHL.
Gustafsson is mostly a power-play specialist with weak defensive analytics, but is still valuable in a reduced even-strength context. He has 250 games of NHL experience, 214 of which came previously with the Blackhawks.
He likely starts the season as the team’s seventh defenseman as he works himself back into the fold, but could eventually reacclimate himself in the team’s top-four group where he’s done extremely well in the past. 2018-19 saw Gustafsson have a massive career year, scoring 14 goals and 60 points in just 79 games. He’s seen his ice time dwindle considerably since that point, but he could very well approach 18, 19, possibly even 20 minutes a game again with Chicago this year if he can rediscover his previous production.
Gustafsson is best suited to play with one of Chicago’s more defensively responsible defenders, a list that includes Jake McCabe, Calvin de Haan, and Connor Murphy. Gustafsson has experience playing both the left and right side, making him a versatile asset when creating lineups.