Defenseman Erik Gustafsson has signed a one year, $800,000 deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. Gustafsson was on a PTO with the New York Islanders during training camp, but was released on Sunday. Despite a solid showing in the pre-season, Gustafsson could not crack a deep Islanders defense corp.
Instead, Gustafsson is returning to where it all began. Gustafsson broke into the league with the Blackhawks in 2015, and spent 4 full seasons in the organization. His best year came in the 2018-2019 season, where he recorded 60 points in 79 games. He was traded to Calgary at the 2020 trade deadline, and recorded 7 points in 17 games (including playoffs). Gustafsson began the 2021 season with the Philadelphia Flyers. He recorded 10 points in 24 games, but was once again traded at the deadline, this time to the Montreal Canadiens. With the Habs, Gustafsson was able to get into 5 regular season games, as well as 16 playoff games during Montreal’s run to the Cup finals.
The signing gives the Blackhawks some needed depth on the blue line. The recent injuries to Caleb Jones and Wyatt Kalynuk have left the Hawks dangerously thin at the key position. The signing of Erik Gustafsson gives them some much needed depth, as well as seeing the return of a known commodity. Gustafsson spent almost 5 seasons with head coach Jeremy Colliton, in both the AHL and NHL. He provides excellent experience, as well as great offense from the back end.