2009-10: Erik Gustafsson split his second season in the Djurgardens club between the U20 and U18 squads. In 24 SuperElit league games with Djurgardens U20, he had eight assists and was plus-four with 26 penalty minutes. Djurgardens finished fifth in the South Division. In 27 regular season games for Djurgardens U18 he scored 7 goals with 13 assists and was plus-32 with 54 penalty minutes. He played in 3 of 5 playoff games and was an even plus/minus with no points or penalties.
2010-11: Gustafsson skated for the Djurgardens U20 team and led all defenseman with 21 assists. Playing on a Djurgardens team that finished first in the regular season and featured Ottawa prospects Marcus Sorensen and Mika Zibanejad and Nashville’s 2012 second round pick Pontus Aberg, Gustafsson played in 38 regular season games and scored two goals while finishing plus-27 with 104 penalty minutes. Djurgardens reached the playoff semifinals and in four playoff games Gustafsson was minus-one with 1 assist and 6 penalty minutes.
2011-12: Gustafsson made his pro hockey debut as a 19-year-old – skating for Djurgardens in the Swedish Elitserien. In 41 games he scored 3 goals with 4 assists and was minus-three with 16 penalty minutes; averaging just over 10 minutes of ice time per game. After finishing 11th in the 12-team Elitserien, Djurgardens was relegated to AllSvenskan after finishing third in the six-team Kval series. In ten Kval series games Gustafsson had 1 assist and was plus-one with 6 penalty minutes. In 21 games with Djurgardens’ U20 team he scored 3 goals with 11 assists and was plus-three with 14 penalty minutes. Not ranked among the 120 European skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings, Gustafsson was selected by Edmonton in the fourth round (93rd overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
2012-13: Gustafsson skated in 49 games for Djurgardens in Sweden’s AllSvenskan (second league) and was the leading scorer amongst defensemen for the club. He scored 7 goals with 16 assists and was +12 with 52 penalty minutes. Djurgardens was fifth in AllSvenskan and was 2-3-1 in six playoff games. Gustafsson scored 1 power play goal and was -3 with 30 penalty minutes in six playoff games. In April 2013 he signed a two-year contract to play for Frolunda in Sweden’s top league, the re-christened SHL.
2013-14: Gustafsson returned to the SHL — skating for Frolunda in his third pro season — and played for Sweden in the 2014 IIHF World Championship. He scored 2 goals with 18 assists and was an even plus/minus with 16 penalty minutes in 50 regular season games, averaging 15 minutes of ice time. Frolunda finished second to SHL champion Skelleftea in the regular season before falling to Linkopings in a seven-game first-round playoff series. Gustafsson scored 1 goal with an even plus/minus and no penalty minutes, averaging 12 minutes of ice time in six playoff games. In eight games for Sweden he had 1 assist and was – 4 with 6 penalty minutes. Sweden defeated the Czech Republic, 3-0, in the bronze medal game. Gustafsson was not signed to a contract by the Oilers, becoming an unrestricted free agent in June 2014.
Gustafsson is a skilled defender with offensive potential to his game. He can run the powerplay, has good vision, and possesses a hard accurate shot with a quick release. Slightly built, he plays with a physical edge and can log big minutes in a game due to his smooth skating skills. He needs to gain more strength and improve his defensive positioning to play at the NHL level.
Gustafsson is skating for Frolunda in 2014-15 in the second year of a two-year contract and is one of the SHL's leading scorers amongst defensemen. While Edmonton no longer holds his NHL rights, he is expected to draw interest as an unrestricted free agent in the spring and the Oilers could be one of the teams in the mix for his services. Long-term, due to his size, skating speed and lack of bulk Gustafsson may be more suited to playing in Europe. His offensive skill set at the same time suggests he could have value for NHL teams looking for power play help or increased scoring from the back end.