It was announced today that the Chicago Blackhawks have traded Defenseman Erik Gustafsson to the Calgary Flames. In return, the Blackhawks will receive conditional draft picks. This deal comes after Gustafsson was a healthy scratch prior to the team’s matchup with the Nashville Predators on Friday and did not travel with the team to Dallas over the weekend.
The 27-year-old blue liner is headed away from the only team he has played for in Chicago after joining the team in the 2015-2016 season. That year, he came into a dressing room full of Stanley Cup Champions and got thrown into the playoffs before he could blink. He registered one point in the five games he appeared in that postseason in which the Blackhawks were eliminated by the St. Louis Blues in seven games. Gustafsson’s best year was last season where he became a top tier defenseman while having a career campaign. Over half of his short career points were in 2018-2019. The Swedish-born lefty hammered home 17 goals and assisted on 43 others for a total of 60 points. It was a 44-point increase from the previous year, in which he accomplished in 79 games. This season is a bit of a different story, though. A big drop in points is something most fans predicted even during his performance last season and it has come to fruition. In 59 games, Gustafsson has just 26 points, six goals and 20 assists. He has also been shaky at times defensively, but still has the potential to be a game-changing back end piece.
The conditional draft picks is a forward attempt to create more future depth for the Blackhawks, who have struggled to manifest a pipeline of talented young players. Although fans in Chicago may not be happy with the trade terms, Gustafsson’s return of picks is an attempt to create more stability moving into the coming seasons.
Josh Barlog is a contributor for Unwrapped Sports Network. Follow him on twitter @ChiSportsJosh.