The Chicago Blackhawks have signed RFA Erik Gustafsson to a 1-year contract. The contract is worth $650,000 and is a two-way contract. Gustafsson was the Blackhawks last RFA to sign a contract. Other former RFA Tomas Jurco signed for 1 year $800.000 dollars earlier this off-season..
Gustafsson spent all of last season with the Rockford Icehogs. He recorded 5 goals and had 25 assists at Rockford last season. He was the Icehogs assist leader last season.
He last played for the Blackhawks in 2015-16. He appeared in 41 regular season games and recorded 14 assists. He also played in all 7 playoffs games that season.
While showing flashes of productive play, His most famous play costs the Blackhawks a game and ultimately the series with the Blues. He is “Famous” for this play:
The return of Gustafsson has small implications on the organization. Gustafsson figures to be in the mix for one of the last defensive spots on the Blackhawks. The competition should be between Gustafsson, Jan Rutta, and Gustav Forsling.
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While having played more NHL games that Rutta and Forsling, Gustafsson still figures to be at a disadvantage in the competition. He is a left-handed shot, which is in great supply on the Blackhawks Blue line. The Blackhawks desperately need more right-handed shots from the Blue line. He also does not score a lot of goals from the Blue line. He did shoot a lot last year in Rockford but that could have been a product of no offensive talent on the team.
If he wins the competition, then Rutta figures to be the one sent down to Rockford. I just cannot envision the season starting without Forsling on the roster. Forsling has to make this team otherwise the defense this year is in really bad shape from a short term and long term standpoint.
If Gustafsson does not win the competition, he figures to be spending more time at Rockford providing organizational depth.
Still In Need of Veteran Defensemen
Despite Gustafsson being back with the Blackhawks, the team still needs another veteran defensemen. While I have speculated that Brian Campbell could be back in October. There are other options out on the free agent market but the pickings are slim. The Hawks have their choices of Mark Streit, Dennis Wideman, Johnny Oduya, and many many others.
One name that does intrigue me is Cody Franson. Franson could be a guy that Hawks could target if he is available in October.
The off-season train continues to roll along.