Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: Predicting Erik Gustafsson’s Next Contract

By Austin Pedue
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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After the 2019-20 season ends, Erik Gustafsson will be a UFA (unrestricted free agent) when his two-year, $2.4M contract with the Chicago Blackhawks expires.

There is no doubt that Erik Gustafsson will demand a much higher salary and will also be expecting a longer term after the season he had in 2018-19.

How much money will Gustafsson command next summer? At this point, it’s hard to tell since he technically only had the one full season, but it was a good one.

There are a few defensemen who recently received new deals, or are about to, and we can expect Erik Gustafsson to be in the same ballpark. First, let’s take a closer look at his breakout season in 2019-20.

Looking Back at a Breakout Season

While averaging just over 22 minutes a game for the Blackhawks, Erik Gustafsson broke out with 17 goals, putting him at third-most by an NHL defenseman.

He also dished out 43 assists for eighth-most and a total of 60 points for sixth-most. These are impressive numbers for a player in his first full NHL season.

He was also a key component of the Blackhawks power play where he led defenseman in minutes played, putting up a total of 18 points, the fifteenth-most by an NHL defenseman.

Looking Ahead

Gustafsson’s breakout season has made him a much more valuable asset and subsequently will result in a major pay raise for the 27-year-old. (He turns 28 in March)

If he has another stellar season for the Blackhawks, there is no doubt that he and his agent will be demanding a high price tag for his services.

Comparable Contracts

When determining a player’s value, the agent and client find comparable players around the league who are similar in age, point production, and role with their respective team.

These are four comparable players and contracts that will likely be looked at to determine just how much a player like Erik Gustafsson could be worth.

Tyson Barrie (26-years-old)

Tyson Barrie
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Contract:

Four-years, $22M ($5.5M AAV) 

2018-19 Season Statistics:

78 GP, 59 points (14G, 45A)

Barrie, who was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, will also be a UFA at the end of the 2019-20 season. Over the past three seasons, he has scored the ninth-most points by a defenseman.

Similar to Gustafsson, he was in charge of running the Colorado Avalanche power play this past season. He had 25 points quarterbacking the man-advantage, the fifth-most by a defenseman.

Jacob Trouba (24-years-old)

Jacob Trouba
(Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Contract:

Seven-years, $56M ($8M AAV)

2018-19 Season Statistics:

82 GP,  50 points (8G, 42A)

Trouba was the big winner this past offseason after being traded to the New York Rangers from the Winnipeg Jets.

In his six seasons in Winnipeg, he averaged just under 30 points a season and 22:53 minutes of ice time. This past season, he had 18 points on the power play — the same as Gustafsson.

Torey Krug (27-years-old)

Torey Krug
(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Contract:

Four-years, $21M ($5.25M AAV)

2018-19 Season Statistics:

64 GP, 53 points (6G, 47A)

Krug has played 462 games in the NHL, all with the Boston Bruins. Over the past three seasons, he has scored the fifth-most points by a defenseman while averaging 21 minutes a game.

This past season he had the third most power-play points by a defenseman with 30. He will be a UFA at the end of the 2019-20 season and will be a top free agent.

Neal Pionk (24-years-old)

Neal Pionk
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)” /

Contract:

Two-years, $6M ($3M AAV)

2018-19 Season Statistics:

73 GP,  26 points (6G, 20A)

Pionk has been in the league for just two seasons, both with the New York Rangers. In June, he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets as part of the Jacob Trouba deal.

While he is younger than Gustafsson and hasn’t yet broken the 30 point mark in a season, Pionk’s contract is important as it helps set the market value for a player like Gustafsson.

How Much Is Erik Gustafsson Worth?

After looking at comparable contracts around the league, and assuming Gustafsson has a similar season to 2018-19,  the Blackhawks and their fans will have a good idea of just how much it will cost to sign him.

Jacob Trouba’s contract was celebrated by defenseman around the league. A term of seven years with an AAV of $8M — for a player who has hit the 50 point mark just once in his career — means a player like Gustafsson, coming off a 60 point season, has now seen his value skyrocket.

Gustafsson should be expected to sign a contract of five-years, $27.5M for an AAV of $5.5M, very similar to Tyson Barrie’s current contract.

Whether or not the Blackhawks will be in a position to sign Erik Gustafsson is yet to be seen, with RFAs Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome also needing new contracts.

If Gustafsson has another 50+ point season, he will get paid whether it’s by the Blackhawks or another team.

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