Flyers’ Gustafsson Heads to KHL

Posted: May 17, 2014 in Uncategorized
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“In Soviet Russia, puck shoots you…”

gusFormer Flyers’ defenseman Erik Gustafsson won’t have to worry much about that. But, the veteran Swede is taking his talents overseas, reportedly signing a contract with Avangard Omsk of the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League).

There were times during Gustafsson’s Flyers career when he took our breath away. The 25-year old scored a key goal in the team’s game six victory over New York last month. An offensively focused defenseman, “Gus” shined as a member of the Swedish Olympic team in Sochi. Now, he’s heading back to Russia to play hockey, this time as a member of Avangard.

Unfortunately, Gustafsson was typically a victim of the dreaded DNP-CD (Did Not Play – Coaches Decision). While talented offensively, his defensive deficiencies prevented Craig Berube from turning him into a long term starter in the NHL. It’s pretty clear now that Gustafsson’s best chance to shine might be overseas, where he will be one of the better defensemen in the KHL. Omsk has had their fair share of stars, as Jaromir Jagr skated their ice before returning to the NHL in 2011.

With Mark Streit, Luke Schenn, Nick Grossman, Andrew MacDonald, and Braydon Coburn all under contract for next season, there was only one or two available roster spots for defensemen. Up-and-coming prospects Mark Alt, Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, and Brandon Manning are likely in the mix for those spots. That left Gustafsson on the outside looking in.

A player that showed flashes of brilliance, Gustafsson was just never able to solidify a starting spot in Philadelphia. He appeared in 91 regular season games for the Flyers over parts of four seasons where he recorded six goals and 17 assists. He added another three points (2g-1a) in nine Stanley Cup Playoff games. Now, he’ll try to rebuild his career in Russia, as a teammate other former NHLers like Sergei Kostitsyn, Alexander Frolov, and Mathieu Garon.

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