The Philadelphia Flyers will be looking to improve their defense this offseason after being eliminated by the New York Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
On Friday, however, things got worse before they could even start to get better.
According to multiple reports, 25-year-old Flyers’ defenseman Erik Gustafsson signed Friday with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Gustafsson was set to become a restricted free agent on July 1.
The Swedish defenseman was never drafted, and was signed by the Flyers in 2010 after standing out in college with the Northern Michigan Wildcats.
Gustafsson played in 31 games this past season, tallying two goals and eight assists, while leading Flyers defensemen with a plus-7 rating.
He was a healthy scratch numerous times this season and with the blueline being crowded in Philly, it’s easy to see why he would opt to go to the KHL.
I actually thought Gustafsson would be back next season, but I completely understand the decision. He wants/needs minutes.
— Sarah Baicker (@sbaickerCSN) May 16, 2014
The signing seemed to shock the Flyers, as they were not told Gustafsson had been planning to sign in the KHL.
#Flyers GM Ron Hextall is aware of the reports regarding Erik Gustafsson but he has not been contacted by the player or his agent.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) May 16, 2014
Over his 91-game NHL career, Erik Gustafsson scored six goals, notched 17 assists, and sported a plus-17 rating. He played nine playoff games with the Flyers, including two this past season against the New York Rangers. Gustafsson has scored twice in the postseason—once against the Rangers in Game 6 this past season, and once against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2013 playoffs.