Gustafsson was severely underused and underappreciated as a member of the Flyers organization. Gustafsson played 31 games this past season with the Flyers, which was the most he ever played at the NHL level. For most of his time in the NHL, he was third-pair defenseman, but he always provided speed, quickness and a puck-moving ability to help the offense.
Gustafsson was snubbed before Game 5 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the New York Rangers in favor of Hal Gill, a player who only played in six games all year. That may have been the final nail in the coffin for Gustafsson and the Flyers organization. It became clear that the Flyers didn't really see Gustafsson in their future.
So Gustafsson will be taking his talents to Russia, presumably to get more playing time. Gustafsson was never going to be able to improve and reach his full potential with the Flyers because of the lack of playing time. Gustafsson is scheduled to become a restricted free agent at the end of the hockey year, so the Flyers do have the rights to him if he signs a qualifying offer, but chances of that happening are slim.
Maybe Gustafsson saw the writing on the wall, especially with Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin, three of the Flyers best prospects, due to get some playing time in the upcoming seasons.Tags: Avangard Omsk, Erik Gustafsson, Hockey, KHL, NHL, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Flyers
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