A former Chicago Blackhawks blue-liner is reportedly on his way back to the team.
According to a report from Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, the Blackhawks are expected to sign defenseman Erik Gustafsson.
After a strong camp with the Islanders, Erik Gustafsson has been released from his PTO and hearing he will sign with the Blackhawks. Had a 60-point season in Chicago in 2018-19. @TSNHockey @TheAthletic— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 10, 2021
Later on, Frank Seravalli of TSN provided contract terms:
Erik Gustafsson back with the #Hawks expected to be a 1-year deal worth $800k.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 10, 2021
As LeBrun mentioned, Gustafsson has been on a tryout with the New York Islanders but was recently released from that tryout. He spent the 2021 season split between the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens, tallying a goal and 11 assists in 29 games. Gustafsson also appeared in 17 of Montreal’s 22 postseason games as the Canadiens reached the Stanley Cup Final, with one goal and two assists and an average ice of 10:00.
Gustafsson has played in 250 games over five seasons, with 214 of those coming during four seasons with Chicago. The best season of his career came with the ‘18-19 Blackhawks, when Gustafsson racked up 17 goals and 43 assists for a career-high 60 points in 79 games played.
Still, it’s a curious move overall considering the Blackhawks already had a loaded depth chart on the blue line following the offseason acquisitions of Jake McCabe and the Jones brothers. Although both Wyatt Kalynuk and Caleb Jones have been recently injured, neither is expected to miss the entire season. Seeing where Gustafsson is going to fit into the Blackhawks’ rotation on the blue line should be interesting because it’s hard to imagine that they’d bring him back to Chicago to sit the bench.