I got the chance to speak with David Gustafsson’s coach Stefan Lundh of HV71 last weekend in regards to the players development this season, unfortunately Gustafsson was injured during the game in what was considered a minor shoulder injury, nothing serious. However coach Lundh was eager to talk about his young adept, and his development.
“It is fun to see David, it is his second year with us, a year that most of us consider the toughest development wise”, Coach Lund starts the interview, “but he has succeeded and taken a big step forward this season”. Gustafsson has played 23 games in SHL this season and has eight assist on his account so far. As with all drafted prospects there is more a question of when, not if, they go over the Atlantic and try for an NHL spot. Mr. Lund is well aware of the situation “I hope, fur us, but of course mostly for David, that when he goes over he should be a finished product. In order to achieve that, in my mind, he has to be one of the best here. He needs to play internationally on a senior level, he is still a junior, so I think he needs another year or two here”.
There is a feeling in Sweden that NHL clubs sometimes are bringing over players a bit too early and it impacts the development negatively in some cases. There is a lot of talk about players going directly into an NHL team and this is the way Sweden wants to show case the talent, talent that are ready for NHL. Players that has made that jump in recent years include Mattias Janmark, Artturi Lehkonen how does Coach Lundh see it? “Historically you can see that it has always benefitted the player to stay another year, no matter if its a super talent or not, to stay that extra year. Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg and most recently Elias Pettersson stayed another year. You have all these ‘stations’ you have to stop at. You have to get a spot on this roster, I need to become one of the best on my team, I need to face the best players in the league every night, I need to be capped. Then I think you have everything set for an NHL career. David is just starting on his journey now, he has a few ‘stations’ to pass before he is ready”. Here in Sweden we are trying to take the cues from NHL with speed and the outlet pass hopefully this will make the transition easier for a David in the end”.