Forwards Drake Batherson, Logan Brown, and most importantly Brady Tkachuk are the club’s remaining RFA’s after the Senators announced the signing of goalie Filip Gustavsson to a two-year contract Sunday evening.
The two-year deal includes a NHL salary of $750,000 next season and $125,000 AHL. However, the key to Gustavsson’s contract is the 2022-23 season is of the one-way variety valued at $825,000.
Senators general manager Pierre Dorion commented in a team release, “We were very pleased with Filip’s performance last season. After spending the early part of the year playing in Sweden, it was evident to us that he is committed to continually improve his overall game. He’s someone we regard as a high-end talent and we’re looking forward to seeing his progress in 2021-22.”
A key piece in the February 2018 trade which saw forward Derick Brassard land in Pittsburgh, the 23-year old cemented his spot in the Senators organization after a series of quality starts towards the conclusion of last season.
After playing two-plus campaigns for Belleville in the American League and three previous recalls to the parent club, Gustavsson finally got an opportunity to get into game action March 17 when starter Joey Daccord suffered an ankle sprain early in the third period versus the Vancouver Canucks.
With Matt Murray and Marcus Hogberg both on the shelf due to injuries, the Skelleftea, Sweden native entered the game with the Senators trailing 2-1. Josh Norris tied the contest 41 seconds later, and Gustavsson held the fort stopping all eight shots faced, before finally losing on a shootout goal by Canucks Adam Gaudette.
Named the 2018 World Junior tourney’s top goaltender and winner of a silver medal, Gustavsson won his first career start, 2-1 over the Calgary Flames five nights later.
“Gus” went on to earn an impressive 5-1-2 record, following up with a 2.16 goals against average, and a stellar .933 save percentage.
His play impressed Dorion so much that Daccord was left unprotected in the Expansion Draft, and was subsequently selected by the Seattle Kraken.
“I had a rough last year. I came back this year. Lately, I’ve been playing good. Coming up and playing on the taxi squad and practicing with the team, you get way more comfortable. It’s a little bit easier when you know more guys on the team, Gustavsson said after making his NHL debut.
In fact, the young netminder was outplayed the previous season in Belleville by Daccord who received the bulk of playing time down the stretch for the first-place North Division BSens.
Gustvasson told Full Press Hockey last season, he felt it was a tad easier to adapt to the NHL style of play than that of the American League due to the structured nature and quality of players on the ice, “I feel how I play, my technique how I play is structured. The saves are a lot more easy. The D’s and the forwards help me make those easy saves by pushing to the outside. And I can just be there to soak the puck up.”
Gustavsson was likely aided last season by getting a head start, playing for Sodertalje in Sweden’s second division Allsvenskan league prior to returning to Senators camp in December.
The goalie appeared in 19 games, posting a 2.30 GAA and .919 Sv Pct.
It’s been quite a rebound for the youngster who seized the opportunity when presented. Who knows where Gustavsson would be today had he not performed so well in that March stint?