From our friends at CSN Philly:
Erik Gustafsson won’t be returning to the Flyers next season. The 25-year-old defenseman signed Friday with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, according to an NJ.com report.
Gustafsson played in just 31 games this past season — and oftentimes was a healthy scratch. He tallied two goals and eight assists in those games, and also scored in the Flyers’ Game 6 win over the Rangers.
Gustafsson was a pending restricted free agent on a crowded Philly blue line. The undrafted Swede was signed by the Flyers out of college (Northern Michigan) in 2010.
After setting a career-high with 29 goals this season, Philadelphia Flyers power forward Wayne Simmonds had been kept mostly under wraps (one goal, one assist) by the New York Rangers through the first five games of their first-round series. So far, he’s giving his team a real chance to make this series go the distance with Game 6’s first two goals.
They’re both basically trademark Simmonds goals, as the 25-year-old displays his knack for cleaning up rebounds and loose pucks in the “dirty” areas:
Update: Simmonds scored yet another goal to give himself a hat trick:
As a bonus, here’s Erik Gustafsson’s tally right out of the penalty box:
Whether the Philadelphia Flyers keep going or not after Game 6 on Tuesday, it looks like they’ll be doing so without defenseman Nicklas Grossmann. The hard-hitting defenseman underwent surgery to repair tendon damage in his right ankle on Tuesday and will miss 8-10 weeks.
That timetable essentially ends the 29-year-old’s season barring a remarkable recovery late in what would need to be a deep playoff run for the Flyers.
The big Swede was injured thanks to this awkward fall in Game 4 against the New York Rangers:
Philly originally replaced Grossmann with an even larger defenseman in Hal Gill, but now it looks like Erik Gustafsson will play in his first 2014 postseason game tonight in Gill’s place.
Hal Gill’s Game 5 cameo won’t extend to Game 6, as the Flyers have announced Erik Gustafsson will draw into the lineup tonight to take on the Rangers at Wells Fargo.
Gustafsson, who appeared in 31 regular season contests, hasn’t played at all this postseason (his last game was on Apr. 13), but is being called upon after Gill looked rusty in Sunday’s 4-2 loss. The 39-year-old was minus-2 in just over 12 minutes of ice time and looked a step slow, something Flyers head coach Craig Berube alluded to in explaining why Gustafsson was drawing in.
“I like his speed,” Berube said, per Philly.com. “He’s a quick player getting up ice. Just looking at that aspect of it.”
The Flyers have been forced to dig into their defensive depth with Nicklas Grossmann sidelined since Game 4 of the series. The hope is that Gustafsson can replicate the success he had during the 2012 playoffs, especially in an series-clinching win over Pittsburgh, when he scored a goal and finished plus-3 in over 22 minutes of ice time.
Nicklas Grossmann’s early exit from Game 4 with an injury has created an opening on the Flyers defense.
According to reporters at Philly practice this morning, it looks like Hal Gill will take Grossmann’s place for Game 5. Gill was paired with Mark Streit, Grossmann’s usual spot, during practice and is rested and ready to join the fray if called upon.
If Gill plays, as Adam Kimelman of NHL.com shared, it’ll be his first playoff game since May 17, 2012 when he suited up for the Nashville Predators against the Phoenix Coyotes. Gill played in just six games this season.
As for why Gill gets the call, Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post shares Flyers coach Craig Berube’s logic for that decision is that he likes having a puck-moving defenseman with a stay-at-home guy. Gill fits the bill as the latter to the mobile Streit. For that reason, Erik Gustafsson would likely stay as the odd man out.
Game 5 between the Flyers and the New York Rangers is Sunday at noon ET on NBC from Madison Square Garden.