Blackhawks: Would keeping Erik Gustafsson make a difference?

Erik Gustafsson #56, Calgary Flames (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Erik Gustafsson #56, Calgary Flames (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

After seeing the Chicago Blackhawks lose to Vegas in 5-games, while struggle defensively, it begs the question, would Erik Gustafsson make a difference in the playoffs?

The Chicago Blackhawks traded Erik Gustafsson for a second-round draft-pick when really, there was a chance for them to trade him for a first-round choice. For those who think he isn’t worth a first-round pick, I say this, Chicago could have packaged one of their later picks to get a first from Calgary.

Either way, Gustafsson was traded and Chicago got the raw end of the deal, even if they might have lost him during the offseason, though his contract was only $1,200,000.

This isn’t about the trade or his contract though, this is strictly about the difference Gustafsson made for the Flames in the playoffs and if he would have helped the struggling blue line of the Hawks in the playoffs. There are two ways of looking at it.

Yes, he helps the team and changes the outcome:

Gustafsson would have added depth to the Blackhawks blue line, along with making sure they had 5 solid defensemen. Those last 2 defensemen could have been switched out at any moment. A line of Slater Koekkoek and Erik Gustaffson would have been perfect for that third-line.

Not only does keeping Gustafsson help the depth on defense, but he also performed well for Calgary in the playoffs. If he has that same performance for the Hawks, they might have not fallen 3-0 in the series against Vegas. They had a few defensive breakdowns that just came down to lack of blueline depth, that doesn’t happen with Gustafsson helping the team on that last line.

Let’s say they don’t play him on defense but add him as a forward. That is still a benefit, as Chicago needs depth on offense. Their defensive future is bright but it’s those middle lines that need help. Gustafsson was rumored to be moved to forward before he was traded. If he isn’t traded, maybe they move him there.

Gustafsson had 4-points (all assists) in 10-games for the Flames during the playoffs. That isn’t too bad.

No, he doesn’t change the outcome:

Maybe he helps them defensively or adds depth at forward for the first time in his career, but he isn’t an elite defenseman that changes everything. He would have added depth but that might have been it. He does add points up, being a point per every other game in his career, but still, is that enough help? No.

Chances are, the same outcome happens. Vegas is a very good team and adding one defenseman wouldn’t change the entire series. Trading Gustafsson for a draft-pick wasn’t the worst idea, as there are guys the Hawks look to bring up in the future. He’s just taking up space and losing him in the offseason without getting anything in return doesn’t help Chicago.

More. How will the 2019-20 NHL season be remembered?. light

Do I think he was very underrated? Yes. Do I think the series has a different outcome with or without him? No.