A week ago, the Flyers qualified four of their restricted free agents this offseason in Erik Gustafsson, Oliver Lauridsen, Brandon Manning and Eric Wellwood. Today, they re-signed the only one who figures to start this year with the NHL team, as Anthony SanFilippo reports that the team has agreed with Gustafsson on a one-year, $1 million contract. The contract is one-way, and the team retains his restricted free agent rights when it ends next summer.
An undrafted free agent signed in the 2010 offseason, Gustafsson's played in 60 career NHL regular-season contests and has posted 13 points in those 60 games. He's coming off of a 2013 season in which he played 27 games and put up three goals and five assists while logging 20:09 of ice time per night, and played a prominent role in Team Sweden's title in the IIHF championships last May.
With the number of injuries on the Flyers' blueline this year, the puck-moving defenseman saw an increased role on the team, as his average ice time increased from 16:48 in 2011-12 while he saw more ice time at even strength, power play and the penalty kill. At 24 (he'll turn 25 in December), Gus is one of the younger members of the team's blueline, he's taken some steps forward in each of the past two seasons, and this deal essentially confirms that he will be on the NHL roster next year.
How's that NHL roster looking, by the way? Via Capgeek, the Flyers' current defensive situation:
That's a lot of players and a lot of money. With the team roughly $2 million over the cap (also courtesy of Capgeek), Chris Pronger figures to head to long-term injured reserve as soon as possible (however soon that may be), and Marc-Andre Bourdon is probably headed for the Phantoms soon as well. That still leaves eight defensemen on the NHL roster, though, and assuming the team has Bruno Gervais slotted in as its seventh defensemen, it still seems like one of these other guys is probably getting traded soon.
Braydon Coburn trade rumors still abound, and Andrej Meszaros is another trade possibility if the team can dump most or all of his salary on someone else, even if for a minimal return. None of which addresses the possibility of any sort of other trade or acquisition, which we can never quite rule out with this team.
But in the meantime, Gus is back.