First of all just take a second to realize that there have been 16 times in the last year where the Blackhawks thought their best course of action would be to play Erik Gustafsson more than 25 minutes. That is remarkable and unbelievably disgraceful, but that’s what happens when you’re running through other options like Brandon Manning, Davidson, Forsling, Rutta, and on down the list. As bad as that list is, it’s sobering to think that Erik Gustafsson is still a top 4 option for the Blackhawks. There’s not a scenario in play with the current lineup where he’s worse than Seabrook or Maatta. He’s going to be playing with Calvin de Haan and maybe de Haan can help make Gustafsson appear to be decent second pair option defensively if Gustafsson can still be a powerhouse on the offensive end and on the PP.
I keep going back to this but for the love of god, how the fuck to do you trade Jokiharju, who can be a better top 4 option for you than Gustafsson, for a player like Nylander who probably isn’t going to make a huge impact. I understand the log jam of defense coming and re-stocking the forward prospect pool and trying to hit another Dylan Strome lottery ticket fixer upper. Whatever. If your top 4 was Keith-Murphy and de Haan-Jokiharju the Blackhawks would be a better team. You can’t convince me otherwise. Gustafsson can play with Seabrook and you just never make the Maatta trade which they probably shouldn’t have anyways. There is plenty of data that would suggest that Gustafsson and Seabrook together would be a disaster. They probably would be, to be honest, but at least that disaster is in the 3rd pair and it can’t possibly be worse than what Maatta and Seabrook have been together which is abysmal.
This is starting to remind me of the Nick Schmaltz situation. Gustafsson’s contract is up after this season. Stan Bowman has a decision to make because whatever you think about Gustafsson you can’t deny his offensive ability. Defensemen that put up points get paid. Look how rich Mike Green is for example. Seemingly NOBODY is talking about an extension for Gustafsson and it’s probably because Adam Boqvist is knocking on the door and can probably do a lot of the same things as Gustafsson right now. All the offense. All the skill. Liability defensively, but he’s young and cheap. So I guess my point is that the Blackhawks should try to trade Gustafsson this season. Similar to the Schmaltz, I don’t even really care what the Blackhawks get in return. I just don’t want him on the Hawks anymore. Whenever it is deemed that Boqvist is ready for NHL action, Gustafsson can be on the next flight out of town. Hopefully for a competent defender. Slide him next to de Haan, put Boqvist in the 3rd pair with Seabrook and buckle up. Just don’t get in a situation where you have to rely on a guy who is gonna be 28 this year, needs a new contract, and still can’t figure it out defensively. The Hawks just can’t do that anymore. Can not have it.