Power Chords: Erik Gustafsson

Dobber Sports

2011-01-03

Gustaffson

 

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I can stay silent no more! This kid has been teetering on the brink of being my next prospect profiled ever since I finished up my bit on Jaden Schwartz. Actually, he’s a guy I’ve been tracking since before Schwartz ever got onto my radar. I started looking at this kid when he was still playing in college last year but as an undrafted free agent was seeking an NHL contract. There’s been an influx of undrafted NHL talent from the college ranks in recent years and with the instant success of guys like Tyler Bozak I’ve been searching for the next big thing. Well Gustafsson was touted in the top 10 of the available college free agents from last spring so naturally he was on my radar and with such an acumen for offense it was clear there was only one way he was getting to the NHL.

 

 

Now I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t think Gustafsson is an immediate buy but there’s a lot of reasons to like this kid. For one, he just dropped a big five points recently to shoot up the AHL scoring list.

He currently leads the Adirondack Phantoms in scoring by far with 20 points in 26 games. That sits him tied for the AHL lead in defenseman scoring and third in AHL rookie scoring.

One major knock is the fact that he is also a team worst minus-22 on the year, but the Phantoms are the worst team in the AHL and don’t have a plus player on the team so some perspective is necessary. It’s also worth noting that Gustafsson was never touted as a great defender. His calling card is and has always been his ability to move the puck and run a powerplay, something he is clearly doing very effectively. Size is probably his biggest issue in the defensive end where at 5’10” 180 lbs. he is going to get manhandled by bigger forwards. But he is fleet of foot and has a good stick so teach the kid some positioning and he can be effective.

I don’t want to focus on the negatives here though. He’s ripping off an incredible scoring pace for a rookie, let alone a rookie defenseman. And it’s not like he’s checking in as one of those super old college grads. He turned 22 on December 15. Plenty of time to learn and grow.

Success is nothing new for Gustafsson either. After signing with the Flyers last spring he was given a brief pro debut to close out the AHL season. He went for seven points in that five-game taste of pro hockey. This after winning back-to-back Top Offensive Defenseman Awards in the CCHA for Northern Michigan University where he starred for three seasons. Other winners o