Gustafsson Off to Great Start for the Blueshirts

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Since Chris Drury became the New York Rangers general manager, he has made a few underrated moves that have helped his hockey club.

Two examples were ones that he made over the summer. The first was when he signed goaltender Jonathan Quick to a one-year deal worth $925,000.

As of this writing (Wednesday night, November 8th), Quick, 37, is 3-0-0-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage, and one shutout. These numbers have him among the league leaders in a few goaltending categories to start the season.

The other move that Drury made this offseason that is paying off is the one-year, $825,000 deal he gave to defenseman Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson, 31, is on his seventh team in 11 years in the league, so at the time of the signing, many people wondered why Drury made this signing.

It appears that Drury knew exactly what he was doing when he signed the 6’1 Swedish defenseman. Through the team’s first 12 games, it has been a match made in hockey heaven.

For starters, Gustafsson has contributed some solid offense for this hockey club. Gustafsson currently has eight points (three goals and five assists) in 12 games and has shown both the Rangers and their fans that he is not afraid to join the rush, find open lanes to get shots off, or put pucks on the net as he has 19 shots this season.

With All-Star and Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Adam Fox out for the next several weeks, Gustafsson is going to get more of an opportunity to contribute offensively to this hockey club. Head coach Peter Laviolette already used him on the power play and said he would not hesitate to use him more in those situations since Fox is out.

Speaking of Laviolette, Gustafsson has shown how comfortable he is playing in his system. During preseason, Gustafsson spoke with Arthur Staple of The Athletic and said how having Laviolette as the team’s head coach is going to be a big help to him this season.

“I like how Laviolette coaches, I know what he wants his defensemen to do on the ice and that gave me confidence coming into camp here.”

In that same article, Laviolette praised Gustafsson for how hard he worked in training camp and how great he looked.

“He’s a skater, a puck-mover, he’s constantly looking to jump and create,” Laviolette said. “He’s looked real comfortable.”

Gustafsson has shown all of the above so far this season. He has shown a lot of poise when he has the puck, he makes smart plays in the defensive end, he knows when to join the rush and when to stay back, and he also knows what is expected of him because he has played under Laviolette before.

Speaking of playing well defensively, Gustafsson has been extremely responsible in his own end of the ice, which is obviously his main job. He has blocked 13 shots, does a great job of clearing rebounds in front of his goaltenders, breaks up a lot of passes, and is currently a +/- +5.

He is also logging a lot of minutes with this team. As of this writing, he is averaging 18:04 minutes of ice time per game, which is great considering the team’s defense already has guys like Jacob Trouba. K’Andre Miller, Ryan Lindgren, and Braden Schneider who also log a lot of ice time.

Gustafsson and the Rangers have been a great fit so far. If he can keep up his strong play for the rest of the season, he might find a way to stick around on Broadway for the next few years.

Guest Jack : Playoffs on the Horizon Ranting Rangers: A New York Rangers Podcast

In this weeks episode Jack comes on to breakdown this Rangers team, with the playoffs being less then 2 weeks away.For more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Guest Jack : Playoffs on the Horizon
  2. All Time High Vibes
  3. Guest Josh Khalfin
  4. The Encouraging but Injury Concerning Backend
  5. Guest Tyler McGillick

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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