Hop on the Gus Bus for a thrilling ride through Erik Gustafsson’s standout start with the New York Rangers. Dive into his rise from sixth man to stardom.
When New York Rangers star defenseman Adam Fox was sidelined, everyone wondered who would step up. Imagine a player making $825,000 a year filling the shoes of someone cashing in $9.5 million. That’s what Erik Gustafsson has done. He’s taking it all in stride, doing everything asked of him in Fox’s absence.
According to the NHL Edge stat tracker, Gustafsson is tied with Fox for fifth in the league amongst defensemen in time spent in the offensive zone at all strengths at 46.6%. Head Coach Peter Laviolette trusts him on the power play, saying, “Gus is more than capable.” He’s priced it. Since he took the reins on November 3rd, the Blueshirts power play has skyrocketed to the second-best in the NHL.
Gustafsson’s rise from From Sixth Man to Power Play Star:
The Rangers have gone 4-1-1 in that stretch, with Gustafsson chipping in with points in all six games (1 goal, 7 assists).
This season, signed as New York’s sixth defenseman, he’s sitting pretty entering Wednesday at 22nd in points among defensemen, tallying three goals and 12 points in 16 games with a +7 rating. Yet it’s not just about offense; he’s holding it down on the defensive end, addressing those concerns from the summer.
Laviolette gave him a thumbs up, saying, “He’s played well since he’s been here. No matter who he plays with, they can drive the play in the right direction. I have history and knowledge; it doesn’t surprise me that he can step in and play that way. He did it for me last year on a different team, and he’s doing the same thing right now, playing really well.”
The hope is that he’ll continue to produce as the 2021 Norris Trophy winner and reigning runner-up continues to recover.
Fox is currently on the road with the team, choosing camaraderie over solo training. With a week and a half left on long-term injured reserve, Fox, donning the non-contact jersey, actively participated in Monday’s and Wednesday’s morning skates. He may return to the blueline on November 29th against the Detroit Red Wings.