Kind of like how Kyle Dubas loves to go after former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds players, Stan Bowman loves to go after former Chicago Blackhawks, as he signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a one-year contract worth $800k.
Gustafsson was on a professional tryout with the New York Islanders and was released from it on Monday.
In a vacuum, it’s a really low risk, high reward deal. I wondered if Chicago would acquire another defenseman for the sole purpose of depth, and with Wyatt Kalynuk and Caleb Jones both out due to injuries, the Blackhawks pulled the trigger. Though Gustafsson won’t hit the 60 point plateau as he did in 2018-19, he could still put up some offence, as he was set up to quarterback the second power play unit.
Gustafsson has bounced a fair a bit in the past year and a half. When he was traded to Calgary at the 2020 trade deadline, the former draft pick of Edmonton took the ice in 10 playoff games, where he amassed four points, all recorded via assists. He then signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, where he amassed 10 points across 24 contests and was eventually traded to the Montreal Canadiens, where skated in 16 games and amassed three points as part of their journey to the Stanley Cup Final. And now he finds himself back in Chicago.
I’m probably overreacting too much, but I’d like to see Stan Bowman try his hand at something new. Jason Demers would’ve been a solid option as a shutdown defenseman on the third pairing for cheap. They could have also turned their focus to the waiver wire. Names like Frederic Allard and Jacob MacDonald stood out to me, but again, these are just third pairing defensemen, you have to pick which hills you die on.
Who knows, maybe Erik Gustafsson rekindles his magic with Patrick Kane and puts up a large portion of offence. But if it doesn’t work out, they can opt to just place him on waivers, and let Kalynuk and Jones fill the vacated void. Hard to get mad really at all for this deal.