The 2018 NHL draft was a pretty solid one for the Winnipeg Jets that saw one of the picks – defenseman Giovanni Vallati – earn a few votes of consideration but ultimately had two of the picks made that year make our top ten list. We’ve already profiled Declan Chisholm who made it in at nine and at six we have the highest ranking player from that draft year and a prospect that’s almost assured a look at the NHL level, David Gustafsson.
- Born: Apr 11, 2000 (Age 19)
- Birthplace: Tingsryd, SWEDEN
- Position: Center
- Handedness: Left
- Frame: 6’2″ / 196 lbs
- Drafted: 2018 – 2nd Round – 60 Overall
- Played Last Year: HV71 (SHL)
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“He was someone who we had rated at a real good spot for us,” Cheveldayoff said. “He’s a strong, two-way centerman. He’s got exceptional hockey sense, really good on the face-offs and already playing over [in Europe] making a contribution. He’s someone we project to be a solid pro player. For young players to get a foothold that early in men’s leagues over in Europe, they have to have some special qualities, and he does have some of those.”
Gustafsson won’t be rushed to NHL by Jets – NHL.com (Jul 4, 2018)
“It is fun to see David, it is his second year with us, a year that most of us consider the toughest development wise”, (HV71) Coach (Stefan) Lund starts the interview, “but he has succeeded and taken a big step forward this season”.
David Gustafsson is quietly progressing in his development – Arctic Ice Hockey (Feb 4, 2019)
What We Said At The Time:
“So where will Gustafsson fit in? Being a natural Centre that is great at faceoffs will be useful in the future for the Winnipeg Jets. Looking longterm, Gustafsson could fit into a third or fourth line shutdown role. If Adam Lowry keeps taking steps forward and improves his offensive game, Gustafsson could become the new defensive centre in three or four years.”
What We Say Now:
When the Jets selected Gustafsson in 2018, the name Adam Lowry came up a lot as a comparable and for good reason. While Gustafsson hadn’t displayed overly strong skating or puck handling ability in the year leading up to his draft, his overall skill-set was solid for a kid who had just spent the past season playing with men. He’s not going to set the league on fire with his offense, nor is he a complete shutdown defensive forward, but as an overall two-way center, he continues to project as a future middle-six forward that can be in the Adam Lowry role of leading a forward line with a primary role of stopping other team’s top lines while possibly chipping in some offense of their own.
Last year during the World Junior tournament, he earned high praise for being a reliable workhorse for Sweden and it was a role he continued to excel at in his second year in the Swedish Elite League. He’ll likely have one more year in Sweden this coming season before the Jets bring him to North America to compete for a roster spot.