The New York Islanders very clearly have a weak spot on the left-hand side of their defense. After Nick Leddy was shipped out to Detroit, it became clear that they’d have to find a replacement to play on the left.
Well, the Islanders might have found that today when they signed Erik Gustafsson to a PTO according to Chris Johnston:
Last year, Gustafsson split time between the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens. He played in 29 games and put up 12 points (1 goal, 11 assists) in 16:43 of ice time. The year prior was spent with Chicago and Calgary where he was playing 20:40 per night and had 29 points (6 goals, 23 assists).
It was back-to-back disappointing seasons for Gustafsson after he burst onto the scene in 2018-2019 with a 60 point (17 goals, 43 assists) season in Chicago. He had 18 power play points to his name that year before dropping to nine and then five in 29 games this past year.
When thinking of Islanders defensemen, he doesn’t necessarily fit the bill. He is downright awful defensively, but he does have a really good shot and has experience on the power play.
In a Barry Trotz system, usually, the defensemen are required to at least play some defense. Gustafsson doesn’t fit that bill in the slightest. If he were to make the team, I can’t see him getting more than 16 minutes per night.
Which makes me believe that if Gustafsson is truly the Islanders answer on the left side, which there is no guarantee of that happening, the pairs would look like Pelech – Pulock, Greene – Dobson, Gustafsson – Mayfield.
There’s no way in hell that Gustafsson and Dobson would be a pair so it looks like Scott Mayfield is the only other choice. I guess, theoretically, the Islanders could make the Gustafsson – Mayfield pair the second unit but with the defensive liability of Erik Gustafsson, I find that hard to believe.
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There’s no guarantee that this is the “fix” to the Islanders’ defensive hole on the left side but it’s an interesting dart throw.