The New York Islanders made a surprising move on Sunday releasing Erik Gustafsson from his PTO, according to Pierre LeBrun.
Gustafsson had been at camp on a tryout deal and appeared to have a strong showing with the Islanders. Still, it apparently wasn’t enough for the Islanders to keep him in the fold and offer him a contract for this season.
It was thought that Erik Gustafsson could have been a candidate to fill the hole left by Nick Leddy after he was traded to Detroit. Gustafsson was a left-handed defenseman that can skate and had an offensive upside.
He was only two seasons removed from a 60 point season with the Chicago Blackhawks, where is reportedly going to sign a one-year deal for this season. And during the preseason, Gustafsson had four points, with three of those coming on the power play.
Erik Gustafsson back with the #Hawks expected to be a 1-year deal worth $800k.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 10, 2021
What was a concern at the start of training camp had been his defense. Gustafsson had struggled in his own end and could be a liability at times for his own team. However, that didn’t appear to be an issue in his limited time during the preseason with the Islanders.
Gustafsson’s time on the power play made it appear as though the Islanders liked what they had seen out of the 29-year-old. Keeping Erik Gustafsson would have made sense too for the Islanders from a standpoint that would allow them to swap him in and out easily for Andy Greene or Zdeno Chara.
The battle to be the Islanders’ extra defenseman had begun to wind down as the team began making cuts over the past week. Gustafsson had been viewed as the favorite, but a strong camp out of Sebastian Aho and Robin Salo made the decision harder for the Islanders front office.
The Islanders also had to consider the fact that a number of players that needed to be sent down had to pass through waivers. Aho would have been an attractive option for any team had he been put on the waiver wire.