The Flyers offseason plans were altered when Matt Niskanen announced his retirement. That put the Flyers in the market to add a defenseman, and three days into free agency, the Flyers did just that.
The Flyers announced on Monday that they have signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a one-year deal worth $3 million.
Gustafsson, 28, is not to be confused with the defenseman who suited up for the Flyers from 2011 to 2014 who currently plays in the SHL. Gustafsson spent last season starting with the Chicago Blackhawks before being traded at the deadline to the Calgary Flames. Collectively, in 66 games, Gustafsson scored six goals and had 29 points. He also had four assists in 10 playoff games for Calgary.
The 6’0”, 197-pound defenseman is a left-handed shot that plays on the right side, helping to fill the void left by Niskanen at that position. More importantly, Gustafsson has averaged nearly 20 minutes per game, 19:58, throughout his career.
Two seasons ago, Gustafsson had an outstanding offensive season, scoring 17 goals and posting 60 points in 79 games, including four power-play goals and 14 power-play assists.
The move also helps the Flyers stay on track with their plans for the expansion draft, as a one-year deal is a short-term commitment. After a bit of a down season following his career year in 2018-19, Gustafsson is a low-buy signing for the Flyers that has the potential to replace Niskanen’s production of 33 points from last season.
This move uses up $3 million of the $8.6 million in cap space the Flyers had entering free agency on Friday. They still have to sign RFAs Phil Myers and Nolan Patrick, but should be able to do so with some cap space left over. This leaves them with some flexibility to potentially sign a bottom-six forward if they choose or be able to make an additional move.