Gustafsson leaves to play in Russia

Erik Gustafsson
Erik Gustafsson
Posted: May 18, 2014

Erik Gustafsson, who in 31 games had the highest plus-minus rating of any Flyers defenseman this season, is heading to the KHL in Russia.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said that he was "disappointed" Gustafsson had signed with Avangard, but that he wished the young defenseman well.

Gustafsson, 25, is a pending restricted free agent. The Flyers said they intend to give him a qualifying offer and retain his rights if he returns from Russia at some point.

If the Flyers don't re-sign Kimmo Timonen, Gustafsson figured to find a regular spot in the defensive rotation until some promising prospects - most notably, Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg - are NHL-ready.

Timonen, 39, who can become an unrestricted free agent, is considering retirement, though he has hinted he would like to return for another year.

Gustafsson had some inconsistent moments this season, but he led Flyers defensemen with a plus-7 rating. The Flyers went 16-11-4 with Gustafsson in the lineup, and 1-1 when he played against the Rangers in the playoffs. Gustafsson, a smooth skater who is built like Timonen, had a goal in the 5-2 win over New York in Game 6.

Gustafsson, who collected 10 points and earned $1 million last season, is playing for Sweden in the world championships.

Down memory lane

In commemoration of Monday's 40th anniversary of the Flyers' first Stanley Cup championship, club chairman Ed Snider held a conference call with the media Friday. He saluted that team and said that, since that historic win, his franchise has reached more Finals (eight) than any other NHL franchise in that span.

The Flyers won Cups in '74 and '75, but have lost in their last six trips to the Finals.

Going almost four decades without a Cup is "very frustrating," Snider said. "As the years have gone by, there's more and more teams, there's more and more parity."

Snider said that since 1973-74, the Flyers rank first in the NHL in wins and points.

"I think it's a pretty good record and one I'm very proud of," he said.

Snider said the Broad Street Bullies era will be remembered like the St. Louis Cardinals' Gashouse Gang in the 1930s.


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