It was announced earlier today that David Gustafsson will be heading to the World Junior Championships to play for team Sweden. The Winnipeg Jets decided to loan him for the international competition which will hopefully help his development as a prospect.
TRANSACTION: #NHLJets have loaned F – David Gustafsson to Sweden for the 2020 World Junior Championship taking place in the Czech Republic later this month.
— Winnipeg Jets PR (@WpgJetsPR) December 13, 2019
This move doesn’t come as a surprise, especially after the Jets recently picked up Nick Shore from the waiver wire. With Shore on the roster, it gives the Jets another centreman who can play in the bottom six. It was exciting to see Gustafsson make his NHL debut this year as he played 22 games and scored his first career goal against the San Jose Sharks.
Even though it was fun to see Gustafsson in the lineup, being loaned to the World Junior Championships is a great decision by the organization. Gustafsson was put into an extremely tough spot on the fourth line as he played most of his games with Luoto and Shaw as his wingers. The trio got absolutely hammered at 5 on 5 as they only controlled 25.5% of the shots while on the ice. That 25.5% is by far the worst CF% of any line in Jets 2.0 history. To go along with the terrible CF%, the trio actually had an even worse xGF% with 16.2%. By the way, these are also the worst totals among the entire NHL this season.
Despite these very poor results, Gustafsson hasn’t looked that bad. While the line has spent most of their time in their own zone, it hasn’t come as a surprise given the fact that a 19 year old rookie is playing in between two AHL players. Gustafsson has shown the ability to defend and get into the right position in the defensive zone.
With the Jets starting to get healthy again, the new look fourth line with Bourque, Shore, and possibly Appleton will push all three of Shaw, Luoto, and Gustafsson out of the lineup.
Shaw and Luoto will likely make their way back to the AHL eventually, but Gustafsson is able play in the World Junior Championships starting on Boxing Day.
This tournament will be great for Gustafsson who will be able to play with and against his peers. Gustafsson projects as one of the best all around players on Sweden and could even be looking at wearing a “C” or an “A” for the tournament.
Big boost for Sweden especially in the wake of Jacob Olofsson’s injury. They’re still shallow down the middle but coach Tomas Monten has a ton of faith in and will lean heavily on Gustafsson. https://t.co/Y8YRREUjIw
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) December 13, 2019
The tournament will be a great opportunity for Gustafsson to regain some confidence and possibly regain his scoring touch after scoring only one point in 22 NHL games.
In terms of Gustafsson’s future after the tournament, the most likely scenario is that he returns to Sweden to play the rest of his season in Europe. As mentioned above, with the addition of Shore, the Jets don’t need Gustafsson on the fourth line anymore. Returning to Sweden would likely be the best path for his development as he could play in his home country while he continues to work on his skills.
It’s important to note that Gustafsson is not eligible to play for the Manitoba Moose this season as he can only play in the NHL or back in Sweden.