For the life of me, I’ve never quite been able to figure out how Erik Gustafsson isn’t a cheaper, possibly better alternative to practically every other Philadelphia Flyers defenseman. He’s only 25, and if they would just try giving him regular minutes…
Alas, there’s no point in contemplating anymore, because Gustafsson is finished taking up space in the press box at the Wells Fargo Center. According to reports, the Swedish blue-liner has agreed to a contract with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. In Russia.
Yes, Gustafsson found the idea of playing and living in Russia preferable to spending even one more year being jerked around by the Flyers.
Gus was scheduled to become a restricted free agent this offseason, which means he was destined to be back in orange and black for 2014-15, or at least watching a hockey team that wears orange and black. Pivotal Game 5, gotta go with Hal Gill, am I right?
Gustafsson played in 33 games between regular season and playoffs this season, notching three goals and eight assists with a plus-seven—team-high among defensemen.
To be fair, Gustafsson’s inability to crack the Flyers lineup on a consistent basis may not be solely responsible for his decision. There's money, and Russia is a lot closer to home—although the obvious downside is it’s Russia.
Whatever the case, he decided he was better off in Russia than playing even one more season in Philadelphia (and probably Allentown), which is sad any way you want to look at it.