Shortly after it was announced that the Flyers had re-signed Scott Laughton to a five-year extension, a report was released stating that the team are trading Erik Gustafsson to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2022 seventh-round pick.
While the returns seem minimal, this was likely a last-ditch effort to salvage any kind of value from what was really a failed low-risk experiment. The offensive defenseman signed with the Flyers this past offseason on a one-year deal worth $3M with the intent of adding some certainty to a previously wobbly blueline situation. Matt Niskanen had retired and there were plenty of question marks surrounding Shayne Gostisbehere. The two had mirroring skillsets and it’s not hard to see why Philly took a punt.
Gustafsson broke out in 2018, putting up 60 points and finishing sixth in the NHL among D-men. While the former fourth-round pick took a while to find his footing with Calgary after a trade, he did score 4 points through 10 postseason appearances in the Bubble. This was a surge in production he was hoping would continue to rise upon his arrival in Philadelphia. After a pretty hot start, things soon cooled off.
The 29-year-old amassed just 10 points (one goal) in 24 games this season and spent most of March as a healthy scratch. Ghost ended up being shockingly waived before landing on the taxi squad. The Flyers draftee has 12 points this season in 29 games while averaging 20 minutes of ice time.
It looks as though the Flyers have seen more than enough from their carousel of youth to move on from Erik Gustafsson, who tumbled down the depth chart after troubles with turnovers and very little in the way of defensive ability. Whether or not Shayne Gostisbehere can rise back up and reclaim his old spot remains to be seen, but the blueline shuffles don’t look like they’ll be ending any time soon.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre