On the last day of February, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a trade with the Washington Capitals. Coming to Toronto were Erik Gustafsson and a round 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft for Rasmus Sandin. While Gustafsson hasn’t played every game with the Maple Leafs since the trade, in those games he has played he’s done well.
On Thursday night against the Florida Panthers, the Maple Leafs rested defenseman Morgan Rielly. In his place Gustafsson ran the first-unit power play. He did well enough that today there was some talk about whether Gustafsson should continue to run the power play.
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Maple Leafs’ Fans Have Learned that Gustafsson Is a Good Defenseman
Erik Gustafsson is showing himself to be a good defenseman, despite some of his limitations on defense. First, we learned that he has a strong offensive skill set that can contribute to the power play. He has consistently put up points throughout his career, including a 60-point season as a defenseman.
On the offensive side of the play, his confidence on the ice allows him to make quick decisions and move the puck effectively. He has one move that is a pump fake and step-in play that often fools opposing wingers.
Additionally, Gustafsson has a good touch with the puck. He’s able to settle it quickly, which allows him to make crisp passes and move the puck up the ice efficiently. Although he might not be the strongest defensively, he brings a different skill set to the table than Morgan Reilly, who tends to be more deliberate in his decision-making.
Overall, Gustafsson’s offensive abilities and confidence on the ice make him a valuable asset to the Maple Leafs’ defensive corps, particularly on the power play. While he won’t displace Reilly as the top defenseman on the team, his contributions are still significant. These have maee him a good addition to the team’s roster.
Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 6-2 Win Over Panthers
Examining What Gustafsson Adds to the Maple Leafs Powerplay
In the following video, Justin Bourne and Brent Gunning discuss how Maple Leafs’ Erik Gustafsson played on the power play against the Panthers. They also discuss whether he should stay on the Maple Leafs’ number one power-play unit.
Five Reasons Gustafsson Is a Solid Power-Play Addition
During the conversation, Bourne and Gunning highlight five different reasons why they believe Gustafsson is a good defenseman:
Reason One: Gustafsson has a trong offensive skill set and ability to contribute to the power play.
Reason Two: Gustafsson is confident on the ice, which allows him to make quick decisions and move the puck effectively.
Reason Three: Gustafsson has good touch with the puck and the ability to settle it quickly, allowing him to make crisp passes and move the puck up the ice efficiently.
Reason Four: Gustafsson has a different skill set than Morgan Reilly, bringing a more decisive style of play.
Reason Five: Gustafsson has had consistent point production throughout his career, demonstrating his offensive prowess as a defenseman.
In summary, Gustafsson is a good defenseman because he has a his strong offensive skill set. He also has the ability to contribute to the power play, as well as his confidence on the ice, good touch with the puck, and consistent point production.
What makes him an added value is that he also brings a different skill set than Reilly. He is far more decisive in his style of play.
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March 25, 2023 at 9:34 am
I was a bit surprised at how good Erik Gustafsson is. In one sense, at 31 years of age he is a mature version of what Rasmus Sandin projects to be but there are some questions here. For example: how is a guy with his track record of point production in the NHL only making $800K? ….and why has he not found a permanent home among his 5 previous NHL stops?
Then there is the deal that brought him here. Was Sandin really worth a 1st round pick and a bona fide NHL roster player? The answers to these questions may never fully come to light so all we can do is look at how well he is playing now.
Due to the small sample size with the Leafs so far, arguably the jury is still out on re-signing him for next season…..but with two lefty/righties signed for next year in Jake MaCabe and T.J. Brodie, as well as considering the likely departure of Justin Holl, could the left shooting Gustafsson occupy the 7th D slot for the right price?
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