NHL Rumors: 3 Teams to Target Erik Gustafsson This Offseason

Heading into the 2022-23 NHL season, Erik Gustafsson signed with the Washington Capitals as a depth defenceman. However, due to an injury to John Carlsson, his role was evaluated, allowing him to have a very productive season with the Capitals. On Feb. 28, 2023, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired him as they geared up for a lengthy playoff run. Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, Gustafsson is on an expiring deal and depending on his asking price, they may not be able to afford him. So, let's take a look at 3 teams that could target Gustafsson this offseason.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have eight NHL calibre defensemen on their roster, but not all of them will be re-signed for the upcoming season. Gustafsson is one of those players who are on an expiring deal but it may be wise for Toronto to give him an extension. He is a powerplay specialist which is something the Maple Leafs can benefit from having more of. He also could be looking for another cheap deal, which also helps the team sign other players. The main reason it makes sense is that he is an NHL veteran, but he isn't 35+ years old. He is a 7-year veteran, who is only 31. Typically Toronto tries to bring in older veterans, but Gustafsson makes sense, especially with their offensively-minded roster.

Washington Capitals 

As mentioned before, Erik Gustafsson played extremely well for the Washington Capitals this season. He scored 38 points in 61 games and seemed to finally look comfortable again in the NHL. The Capitals traded him solely to acquire Rasmus Sandin, who seems to be a younger version of Gustafsson. However, that doesn't mean there wouldn't be a mutual interest to bring him back to Washington. The Capitals also are a team that needs to rebuild a part of their defence core, so bringing back a player who enjoyed his time there, may help with the culture shift.

Seattle Kraken

The Seattle Kraken has officially put itself on the NHL map. After a shaky first year in the NHL, they secured themselves a playoff spot in their second season. They are a team that has a very bright future with players like Matty Beniers and Shane Wright. That can be a driving factor as to why players would want to go there. Gustafsson would be a good fit as the power-play guy and also gives them a secondary offensive defenseman option after Vince Dunn.

Photo Credits: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports