Erik Gustafsson had a slow start this season. In the first 27 games, Gustafsson put up 4 goals and 7 assists with a -5 rating. Things weren’t clicking and there was no rhythm, so Chicago Blackhawks sat Gustafsson on December 2nd. That was all the motivation that Gustafsson needed.
Gustafsson came back from being scratched (and sick for 2 games) with power and drive. In the 36 games since being scratched, Gustafsson has put up 9 goals with 28 assists. In total for the season, Gus has 13 goals and 48 points in 63 games. Gus is 4th in points on the Blackhawks but is 1st in points as a Blackhawks defenseman.
Even at 6’0″ and 176 lbs, Gus isn’t a guy that dishes out big hits but he’ll get the job done when need be. Gus is a fewer hits and more blocks kind of defenseman. This season alone, Gus has 84 blocks and 61 hits.
Gus is not only a producing defenseman, he’s a durable one. Gus is on the ice for an average 22:08 a game, 3rd on the team alongside Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith (behind goalies of course). With where the Blackhawks are now, Gus is the kind of player the Hawks need to model their future after. That organic kind of dedication and strive for greatness is a trait lost on quite a few players in the league.
As the season continues and the Hawks go through this “rebuild-but-we’re-not-saying-its-a-rebuild”, Gus is going to be a key player to add your defense around.
Yes you have players like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, who are Cup winners and good d-men, but Gus is still able to keep up with the “Hockey Robots” (aka young players) while also being mentioned alongside names like Brent Burns and Morgan Rielly. He’s only 26, he’s still a fast, smart defenseman with quite a bit room to grow.
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