We’ve graded all the Washington Capitals trades (so far) and have been thanking departing players for their time with the Caps. Next up is Erik Gustafsson. Here’s the story on the trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for Rasmus Sandin and the grade.
The Caps were looking for more depth on defense and they decided to sign Gustafsson during free agency over the summer. He was signed to a bargain of $800K.
He finishes his Caps career (unless he somehow comes back) with seven goals and 31 assists for 38 points in 61 games. His most memorable game with the Caps came against the team he was traded to on Dec. 17, 2022 at Capital One Arena.
On that night the Capitals hosted the Maple Leafs and Gustafsson recorded a hat trick. He was the first Caps defenseman to do so since Sergei Gonchar did it in 2002. He is also the first player in NHL history to get traded to a team he scored a hat trick against.
All the games Gustafsson scored resulted in Caps wins. He would score in the next game against the Detroit Red Wings. Then later that month on the road at the New York Rangers. He also scored in wins over the Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets.
His hat trick against the Maple Leafs though was not only his most memorable game but the first three goals he scored this season. It was also a highlight of a hot December month where we all thought the Caps turned the corner and had a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
Because he was scoring, being relied upon to play heavy defensive minutes, and loved his teammates, he was open to an extension. But sadly the Caps were slipping in the standings and they needed to unload some expiring contracts. It’s a tough business.
Thank you Erik Gustafsson from Caps fans everywhere and all of us at Stars and Sticks. We’ll miss the Gus Bus in D.C.