Early 2022 predictions for Erik Gustafsson

We are in the homestretch of the defense portion of our early Washington Capitals player predictions so next up we’ve got Erik Gustafsson who’s basically a Justin Schultz replacement.

You’ll likely see him on the third pair with Trevor van Riemsdyk. Last season in 59 games with the Chicago Blackhawks he recorded three goals and 15 assists for 18 points. He has spent six years in the NHL playing for the Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, and Philadelphia Flyers.

The six foot, 197 pound defenseman ranked third among Blackhawks defensemen in points, second in power play points (four), and fourth in shots (79). He also represented Sweden at the 2022 World Championship, recording seven assists in eight games.

During the 2020-21 season, Gustafsson recorded 12 points with one goals and 11 assists while averaging 16:43 minutes of ice time per game in 29 games with Philadelphia and Montreal.

He originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Blackhawks on April 30, 2015. The native of Nynashamn, Sweden skated in 214 games with the Blackhawks from 2015-16 to 2019-20, producing a career high 60 points in 79 games in 2018-19 with 17 goals and 43 assists.

So what can Gustafsson bring to the Capitals? He’ll be one of those important new faces on the defense that will look to improve under Peter Laviolette’s system. They were OK the last two years but there was just something missing.

The Caps though are at least a top 12 defense as they were 20th in goals allowed last season. Could they possibly crack the top 10 is the big question.

Last season Gustafsson led all Blackhawks full time defensemen with a 50.22 percent Corsi For percentage. His Expected Goals For percentage was 47.07 percent and his High Danger Chances For percentage was at 43.25 percent, via Natural Stat Trick.

Gustafsson won’t be a player that will score goals but he will be a player that will help shut things down with TvR. He’ll have two goals and 17 assists for 19 points.