Blackhawks ‘closer to a deal’ with Erik Gustafsson, per report

The Swedish defenseman spent all of last season in the American Hockey League.

One of the more forgotten defenseman in the Chicago Blackhawks’ organization may be close to returning.

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who spent all of last season playing in the AHL with the Rockford Ice Hogs, is “closer to a deal” with the Hawks, according to The Athletic’s Scott Powers.

Gustaffson was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but never signed with the team. He took a two-year deal with the Hawks in May 2015 and was an unrestricted free agent after that deal expired after the prior season.

Gustaffson appeared in 41 games for the Hawks during the 2015-16 season, picking up 14 assists. But he did not impress the coaching staff enough to hold on to a roster spot, playing 68 games for Rockford in the American Hockey League in 2016-17 while picking up five goals and 25 assists.

The Blackhawks have plenty of holes among the defensive corps after the last few weeks of transactions, so Gustafsson could see a return to the NHL level with a strong training camp performance. But it’s a crowded competition he’ll join, alongside teammates like Ville Pokka, Gustav Forsling and Michal Kempny, among others.