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The Gus Bus is an overall workhorse: David Gustafsson Jets Nation year in review

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Photo credit:© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
1 month ago
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David Gustafsson, sometimes nicknamed the “Gus Bus”, is the final Winnipeg Jets player in the spotlight for this Jets Nation year in review series. Today is the day I complete going through the 2023-24 seasons from each Jets player and look forward to what they might be doing in the 2024-25 season. I’ll have one more article coming up this afternoon that talks about other members who made a noteable amount of appearances for the Jets, including Axel Jonsson Fjallby, Logan Stanley and Rasmus Kupari to name a few. But first, it’s time to look at the workhorse centre from Sweden who was a noticeable member of the Jets bottom 6 forward group: David Gustafsson.
The 24-year old from Tingsryd, Sweden is a former 2nd round, 60th overall pick by the Jets in the 2018 NHL entry draft. Since being drafted, Gustafsson has split his playing time between the Jets and their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. In the 2022-23 season, Gustafsson appeared in 46 games. In the 2023-24 season, Gustafsson was looking to exceed that total, but missed 18 games with a lower body injury, and finished with 39 games played. In those 39 games, Gustafsson scored 3 goals and added 4 assists for 7 points. In the Jets round 1 playoff series, Gustafsson played in 4 of the 5 games and scored 1 goal.
Just like any other bottom 6 forward though, it’s not all about the points. A lot of what Gustafsson does well doesn’t have to do with scoring. He’s one of those players that are sound, meaning he plays a controlled, responsible game, being that two-way center who brings a defensive upside. Each player in a bottom 6 forward role has their own unique traits that they bring to a team, and Gustafsson is that guy who just works hard and battles for the puck. Gustafsson is also strong in the faceoff dot, holding a 54.6% faceoff winning percentage which ranks him 34th in the NHL.
Again, Gustafsson isn’t the type of flashy or exciting player that you may notice more, but he’s that two-way presence that can be trusted in playing in different situations. I’ve talked before about how bottom 6 forwards need to be versatile so that they can adapt to what they need to do game to game, and Gustafsson does just that. There’s still plenty of room for expanding Gustafsson’s potential. If he becomes a better skater and starts producing more points, then he’ll truly become a really valuable bottom 6 forward. Overall, the best words to describe how Gustafsson plays is sound and workhorse, and if you focus on watching Gustafsson during a Jets game you’ll see those words in action.
Moving on to something that I’ve done with every player on the Jets roster in this series, and that is looking at their current contract and potential future contract. David Gustafsson signed a very affordable 2 year, 1.55 million dollar deal before the 2022-23 season, meaning his deal expired after the 2023-24 season. Gustafsson won’t hit the open free agency market just yet, as he’s a restricted free agent at age 24 this off-season.
The 6’2″ forward has done enough this season to prove himself worthy of another contract with the Jets. I don’t see Gustafsson’s next contract being a long-term one quite yet, and if I had to guess, he should be getting a 3-4 year deal at 1.2-1.8 million per year. Gustafsson has been the so called “13th” forward in the past for the Jets, but depending on how their roster shapes up next season he should be able to earn himself an everyday bottom 6 centre job for the 2024-25 season.
All of that being said, what should you expect from David Gustafsson next season? I believe he’ll be even more noticeable and impactful then he was this season with the Jets. Gustafsson hasn’t reached his full potential yet, but when he does he’ll be a very reliable two-way centre that fully lives up to his 2nd round draft pick selection. I know I’ve said something similar to that for other players on the Jets, but with the work ethic that the “Gus Bus” has it only increases his chances of actually reaching his full potential. Overall, look out for Gustafsson next season to have his 1st 60+ games played and 15+ points year, all while doing everything else that makes him an important player to keep on the Jets roster for the 2024-25 season.

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