Erik Gustafsson can play on the left as well as on the right. Too good for him, because at first glance the competition would be fierce if he wanted his place with the Canadian.
Gustafsson participated in a video conference Wednesday morning from his room at the Edmonton Hotel. This is where a defender earned on Monday by Habs will spend his seven days in quarantine. He will be able to join his new team-mates there directly, who will play two matches in the Alberta capital next week.
Gustafsson is a left-handed defender, but he said he has been playing on the right for three years. He described “I am walking from side to side as the games continue.” When I’m playing on the right flank, it’s even more difficult to have a backhand paddle in the defensive zone. But at the offensive blue line, I prefer to be on the right. I don’t mind playing one side or the other. ”
The question is relevant, because the Canadian still only has two right-handed players, Jeff Petrie and Xia Weber. Applications for the third position from the right are limited; Brett Colak is not playing that side, while Dominic Ducharme prefers to see Alexander Romanov on the left. Ben Shiarot is expected to be to the left of Weber as he heals. Meanwhile, Petrie played his best hockey game with Joel Edmundson to his left.
In short, if the first duo remained Edmundson-Petrie and Kiarot-Weber, it would essentially leave Gustafson and other newcomer, John Merrill, fighting for the right place in the third duo.
What is the priority?
At first glance, the Canadian would need Gustafsson’s offensive talent to strike a balance between offensive and defensive defenders. The Swede could also give a boost, having scored a season of 60 points (17 goals, 43 assists) in 2018-19 with the Black Hawk.
Gustafsson has been called to contemplate this crazy season, which alone explains why his name has continued interest.
“I didn’t have a very good start that year. Everything went fine from November,” he remembers correctly. In fact, after the first quarter of the season, he had a small 7 points in 21 games.
“Our strong play got really good. I played with great confidence. I played my own way, tried to simplify my game in my area, give the disc to the attackers and support the attack. I had some good players with me and I have some here too.”
Difficulties in defense
However, it makes you wonder if there were a few “empty calories” on his score, because his defensive play wasn’t necessarily on point.
Moreover, Gustafsson, during the 2018-2019 season, became only the second defender, since the 2005 close, to have a season of 60 points without a single vote for the Norris Cup. (Since your insistence, the other one has been Keith Yandle, also in 2018-19).
That season, he mostly played alongside veteran Duncan Keith, who was 35 years old. Despite this correlation, Gustafson’s advanced stats were barely glowing. Although his team had an advantage in scoring goals and letting him when on the ice five to five (73-67, 52.1%), they were largely deficit in high-stakes scoring opportunities (280-345, 44.8%). )1.
The metrics remained largely the same in 2019-20, and just before the pandemic, the Chicago Blackhawks swapped it out for the Calgary Flames in the third round.
After becoming a toll-free agent last fall, Gustafson joined the Philadelphia Flyers, and again, his indicators weren’t good: 16-18 for goals scored and allowed (47.1%), 43-58 for chances to score at high risk (42.6) %). Limited to 10 points on 24 outings.
A year after the Blackhawks won the third round, the Canadian team was only tasked with picking the seventh round.
It clearly didn’t work here.
Chuck Fletcher, General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers
“It didn’t work for me. It’s in the past,” said Gustafson of his time in the former Darren Doulton stronghold.
Along with Merrill and Gustafson, Ducharme now has very different defenders on his team. Unless there are injuries, we rarely see both in uniforms in the same match. When the time for selection came, would he prefer Gustafson’s offensive qualities or play Meryl more conservative?
“Defensive play starts with killing games. If you don’t … But that applies to five players on ice. If you want to attack, you have to kill the games, collect the disc and start over. Get two players who can do both together.” [attaquer et défendre] Important. ”
Gustafsson would give him another option for powering up, and possibly even the ability to deploy a two-gun unit. But even there, Ducharme did not want to advance.
“The day he’s going to be in training is one of his strengths. We can see him in the strength play. We’ll probably have defenders.” [au sein d’une unité]. These are things we’ll see in due course. ”
1. Data: the deception of natural statistics