Blackhawks sign Erik Gustafsson to 1-year contract

The Gus is no longer loose.

The Chicago Blackhawks signed restricted free agent defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a one-year contract, the team announced Friday. It’s a two-way deal worth $650,000, reports Scott Powers of The Athletic.

Gustafsson was the Blackhawks’ final remaining RFA for the summer. He received a qualifying offer from the team back in late June, and now he’s signed for the upcoming season.

The 25-year-old recently completed a two-year deal with the Blackhawks that he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He had a $667,500 cap hit on that deal, although his actual income was a bit lower given he was on a two-way deal that paid just a $70,000 salary in the AHL.

During the 2015-16 season, Gustafsson appeared in 41 games with the Blackhawks and showed some NHL ability. He recorded 13 assists at even strength, and posted a 53.7 percent 5-on-5 Corsi. The Hawks’ 5-on-5 Corsi that season was 4.6 percent higher with him on the ice than on the bench.

Last season with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, Gustafsson continued to put up solid offensive numbers with five goals and a team-leading 25 assists in 68 games. In addition to more assists than anyone on the IceHogs, he also led the team in shots on goal (185) at a solid average of 2.7 per game.

That could make Gustafsson a potential option for the Hawks’ blue line next season, although he’ll be competing with Michal Kempny, Gustav Forsling, and Jordan Oesterle for playing time on the left side. It’s too bad he’s not a righty, as the Hawks’ only options there behind Connor Murphy and Brent Seabrook are Ville Pokka, Jan Rutta, Michal Rozsival, and a host of prospects.