#19 PROSPECT: ERIK GUSTAFSSON

Erik Gustafsson was a 4th round draft pick in 2012 and we haven’t seen or heard too much about him since draft day. He was taken inside the top 100, and has been productive over the last 18 months.

PREVIOUSLY NUMBER NINETEEN ON THE LIST

  • December 2004: L Liam Reddox (100)
  • December 2005: D Danny Syvret (59)
  • December 2006: G Glenn Fisher
  • December 2007: D Sebastian Bisaillon (2)
  • December 2008: L Phil Cornet (2)
  • December 2009: G Olivier Roy
  • December 2010: D Jeremie Blain
  • December 2011: D Kyle Bigos
  • December 2012: L Curtis Hamilton

This is the way the 19th man list should look—there are no first round picks and the players who made it (GP in NHL in brackets) did it as long shots. Reddox was an interesting player, always liked him (although Thoresen was the better player) and of course there’s still time for a couple of these players to emerge.  Still, ranking Gustafsson here should indicate to us that major expectations are likely to result in disappointment.

gustafsson4

WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY

  • Jonathan Willis: Not only does it seem that Gustafsson is a little bigger (6.00, 203) than initially advertised, he also is capable of playing an agitating game. Teammate Philip Holm, asked which player would spend the most time in the penalty box in 2012-13, nominated Gustafsson (quote via Google Translate): Gustafsson used to sit a lot. He has a little temper, talking a little trash talk like that. He will probably have to sit some minutes.
  • Pronman: “I was able to catch a game of Oilers 2012 draft pick defenseman Erik Gustafsson in a recent European Trophy game. I did not comment on him at the draft or in Edmonton’s organizational write-up due to lack of notes. Mind you it was only one match, but from what one can gather from a singular game, I understand why Edmonton used a fourth round pick on him. Gustafsson, who was in his third draft eligible season, certainly has a fair amount of skill and mobility. Several times he showed the ability to be an effective puck carrier who can make impressive plays and be a starting point for offense. He’s a little undersized which won’t help him, but considering that I thought he defended at an ok level as his reads were fine.
  • Stu MacGregor: “Offensive, skilled defenceman. Again, a puck-mover we can hopefully fit in with the rest of our group to give us some puck movers and some size.”
  • Elite Prospects: A skilled defenseman with some nice offensive skills. Can quarterback the powerplay and able to log big minutes. Has good vision and an edge to his game. Good release.

ERIK GUSTAFSSON, BY SEASON

PLAYER TOTAL NHL E (.55)
GUSTAFSSON 2011-12 SEL 21, 3-11-14 82, 6-24-30
GUSTAFSSON 2012-13 Alls 49, 7-16-23 Not available
GUSTAFSSON 2013-14 SEL 30, 0-13-13 82, 0-20-20

I don’t think there’s much doubt Gustafsson can contribute to the offense once he arrives in North America, this is not a Ladislav Smid-Oscar Klefbom type defenseman. On the other hand, as Klefbom proved you don’t really know about a player until he arrives in training camp and competes for a job. Gustafsson is an older prospect (Gustafsson is 14 months older than Klefbom but was chosen the year after) and if the Oilers plan on using him it’s probably now or never (this coming summer) to sign him.

 GUSTAFSSON ETA

In spite of being a prospect of interest, there’s a very good chance Gustafsson never plays for the Oilers. He has some things going against him: there’s a new GM in place with no emotional connection to him; the club will be adding (hopefully) Dillon Simpson and (probably) Darnell Nurse to the pro ranks while losing only Nick Schultz and (maybe) Corey Potter from the NHL/AHL depth chart. Here’s a list of defensemen (including Simpson and Nurse) likely to be Oilers BEFORE they make a decision on Gustafsson:

  1. Jeff Petry (rfa)
  2. Justin Schultz (rfa)
  3. Andrew Ference
  4. Anton Belov (UFA)
  5. Darnell Nurse*
  6. Phil Larsen (rfa)
  7. Taylor Fedun
  8. Martin Marincin
  9. Oscar Klefbom
  10. Dillon Simpson*
  11. Brandon Davidson
  12. Brad Hunt
  13. David Musil
  14. Martin Gernat

Plus they’ll be adding to the NHL defense. Gustafsson looks like he’s earned a contract and two or three years to show he can make the grade in the NHL, and my suspicion is that he gets it beginning next fall.

The major positive for Gustafsson comes from the new coach in Edmonton. Dallas Eakins clearly likes puck moving defensemen who are comfortable with transition passes and making quick decisions. It looks and sounds like Gustafsson’s skills are a nice match.

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17 Responses to "#19 PROSPECT: ERIK GUSTAFSSON"

  1. godot10 says:

    //I didn’t feel that way about Quinn, or Renney, or Krueger. But Eakins, who is not perfect, has one thing that I value very highly.

    He follows through. And that’s a big part of anything in life.//

    Note: I’m traveling/vacation most of December. I haven’t abandoned ship.

    Krueger wasn’t given a chance to follow through.

    Unlike the others (yes, I know it was partly luck, but there is a lot of coaching in the PK), but Krueger had the Oilers hanging with the pack into the last third of the season, something neither of the others were able to do or are likely to be able to do.

    Is January is atrocious, it will be interesting to see if Eakins can survive.

  2. Brackenburied says:

    I haven’t spent much time following the up and comers prior to this blog and I find it interesting just how few prospects in the system are likely to have an NHL career. If memory serves me, 4 or 5 probables, 4 or 5 with some chance if things line up for them, and the rest would be considered almost a lottery win if they have a career.
    Do you think that’s a fairly common spread across other teams?

  3. hunter1909 says:

    “He has some things going against him: there’s a new GM in place with no emotional connection to him”

    Great. In other words, forget about every oiler draft pick before 2013? Add another 3 years to the perpetual rebuild? Help Lowe’s 12 year old daughter to finish Harvard?

  4. Lowetide says:

    Brackenburied:
    I haven’t spent much time following the up and comers prior to this blog and I find it interesting just how few prospects in the system are likely to have an NHL career.If memory serves me, 4 or 5 probables, 4 or 5 with some chance if things line up for them, and the rest would be considered almost a lottery win if they have a career.
    Do you think that’s a fairly common spread across other teams?

    Two things. First, NHL teams who procure talent through the draft AND college free agents generally produce more players, Oilers have been out of the colleges for awhile but are getting back in (Fedun, Arcobello) these days.

    Second, we’re about to go through a period where the skill forward positions are taken. So, if you’re a pure skill guy (Marco Roy, as an example) you’re more likely to be Walt Poddubny or Marc Habscheid (finding employment elsewhere).

    So, yes fairly typical. Although the Oilers current top 20 will produce many more defensemen for the NHL than this franchise has ever done in the past.

    Ever.

  5. Lowetide says:

    hunter1909:
    “He has some things going against him: there’s a new GM in place with no emotional connection to him”

    Great. In other words, forget about every oiler draft pick before 2013? Add another 3 years to the perpetual rebuild? Help Lowe’s 12 year old daughter to finish Harvard?

    No, but there’s little doubt the organization is going to be aggressive in procurement across all formats. That includes Euro signings (Belov) and college (Fedun), and Gustafsson may or may not be the best option for them.

  6. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    With a guy like Gustafsson (who I mentioned earlier HAS to be higher than Gazdic… mgt wanting cardboard cut outs of thugs regardless), you have to wonder if (esp. as an older prospect) he wouldn’t turn down an ELC and simply stay the course in Europe…

    I mean the $$ is probably going to outpace AHL money, he doesn’t have to deal with growing pains in NA, etc. Plus, if he kills it, he’ll probably get a decent shot an an 2-way NHL deal in 2-3 years anyway.

    If I were LaLeggia, I’d probably head to Europe too.

    But, If Gustafsson is game to struggle for NHL work, I’d waste a contract on him. Certainly has more upside than Abney and some of the other bottom feeders coming off the list.

    ———–

    Lowetide: No, but there’s little doubt the organization is going to be aggressive in procurement across all formats. That includes Euro signings (Belov) and college (Fedun), and Gustafsson may or may not be the best option for them.

    On this point… this guy we talked about in the Summer would be a nice add:

    http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=4281

    But on top of procuring new talent, what about bringing Harti and Thoresen back… I know we are all aware that Harti is killing it in the K right now… but Thore is having a nice year too:

    http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=3419

    He’d eat Acton’s lunch all day, push Lander and can play wing up the chart.

  7. boxman says:

    This group of Oilers is becoming increasingly hard to like. As a team they are incapable of standing up for each other and many of them are either cowards or selfishly disinterested. Taylor Hall had one fight and now he turns away every time he is physically challenged. If Kassian had speared someone in the eye last night the list of players who wouldn’t piss themselves is extremely short. My guess is most of the Oiler players have gotten rid of all the mirrors in their mansions because if any of them had pride and got a good look at themselves they would head for the cliffs like lemmings. I’m done going to games as the smell of piddle wafts up into the stands every time an opposing player glares.

  8. Brackenburied says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:

    He’d eat Acton’s lunch all day, push Lander and can play wing up the chart.

    Surely (hopefully) there is no scenario that will ever see Acton playing for the Oil again.

  9. godot10 says:

    boxman:
    This group of Oilers is becoming increasingly hard to like. As a team they are incapable of standing up for each other and many of them are either cowards or selfishly disinterested. Taylor Hall had one fight and now he turns away every time he is physically challenged. If Kassian had speared someone in the eye last night the list of players who wouldn’t piss themselves is extremely short. My guess is most of the Oiler players have gotten rid of all the mirrors in their mansions because ifany of them had pride and got a good look at themselves they would head for the cliffs like lemmings. I’m done going to games as the smell of piddle wafts up into the stands every time an opposing player glares.

    The Oilers don’t have anyone who can really challenge Kassian. The way to get back at Kassian is to 1) score goals 2) hit the Sedins and/or Kesler.

    The goal is to win hockey games. The German Army went around through the weaker Poles in the 2nd World War, but around the entrenched French position.

    Challenging Kassian directly only proves you are a stupid man.

    Challenging Kassian directly only makes him relevant, when the goal should be to make him impotent, by making him irrelevant. Score goals and hit the Sedins.

  10. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    There was one play that stuck out in my mind last night. (some of these details may be off… memory,etc.)

    The nucks dumped the puck in to make a change. 15 and 19 were both back to retrieve. Back behind the net. No other player was on screen. The entire Oiler zone was just 40, 15, 19 and the puck.

    19 fumbled the puck a bit, 15 was on his left on the other side of the net, again behind the goal-line.

    Slowly 2 nucks entered the zone to forecheck. Still no other Oiler in sight (just 40, 15 and 19).

    After having all the time in the world with no pressure (but no outlet either), 19, sensing danger passes over to 15, both nucks chase 15 into the corner… still no viable Oiler outlet pass, or even presence.

    15 loses the puck to the forecheck… wait… wait… more nucks enter the zone… wait… wait… wait… finally an Oiler comes back to touch base, but lingers at the blue line…

    no goal on the play, but nucks got a ton of unmolested zone time and chances… off of what started as a routine, unchallenged puck possession.

    The D isn’t calm enough, has trouble making clean passes… but lordy… if those damn forwards keep expecting to get gradeA passes delivered to them 200 feet from their own net… we are doomed, very doomed.

    If you want the puck so damn bad… how about you go and get it?

  11. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Brackenburied: Surely (hopefully) there is no scenario that will ever see Acton playing for the Oil again.

    Don’t discount it.

    Besides, that isn’t the point. The point is Acton wasn’t hired to play 4C. He was hired to add to the pro C depth chart and be a vet call up option. He “won” the 4C job.

    Thoresen, IMO, is a much better option for that role on the team. He can play C or W without much fuss. Can score, etc.

  12. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    godot10: Challenging Kassian directly only makes him relevant, when the goal should be to make him impotent, by making him irrelevant. Score goals and hit the Sedins.

    Completely agree with this.

    Though, I don’t really have a problem with Gazdic challenging Kassian.

  13. boxman says:

    Godot10 that is why it is a team game. The idea is to have each others backs and not allow one player to humiliate a whole team after he smashed a teammates face with his stick. It is not a matter of being stupid but rather being a teammate and a man. As statistic orientated as this site is it is still a mans game and if you can’t or refuse to step up as a team when challenged then you are defeated before the puck is dropped. As for your analogy from the second world war I don’t believe it is relevant but I will continue to read you in spite of you being distinctly wrong in this case.

  14. godot10 says:

    boxman:
    Godot10 that is why it is a team game. The idea is to have each others backs and not allow one player to humiliate a whole team after he smashed a teammates face with his stick. It is not a matter of being stupid but rather being a teammate and a man. As statistic orientated as this site is it is still a mans game and if you can’t or refuse to step up as a team when challenged then you are defeated before the puck is dropped. As for your analogy from the second world war I don’t believe it is relevant butI will continue to read you in spite of you being distinctly wrong in this case.

    Do the Oilers need more team toughness? Do they need to get bigger? Do they need to play more physically against the best players on the other team? You bet.

    But the way to win a battle is to play to ones strengths, not to ones weaknesses. The only way Kassian becomes relevant is if the Oilers make him relevant. Hit the Sedins. Make Kassian do something stupid.

  15. boxman says:

    In principle your right but circumstances here demanded a visceral and team reaction. It ‘s not about winning a fight but about team pride and unity.

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