Johan Gustafsson Recalled By Iowa Wild


The Iowa Wild recalled goaltender Johan Gustafsson from the Alaska Aces of the ECHL on Sunday. That recall followed immediately on the heels of the recall of Darcy Kuemper to the Minnesota Wild following his conditioning stint with Iowa.

Gustafsson, like Kuemper, has had his share of struggles this year and a stint at a lower level was hoped to be a stepping stone toward more consistent and confident play. While Kuemper’s stint in the AHL didn’t go great, Gustafsson had an ok stint in the ECHL. Gus went 3-1, improving as the stay went along. He finished with a .908 Sv%.

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It’s not a save percentage we’re stopping presses over, but, as I’ve said many times at GPW, we aren’t looking for Gustafsson to be a NHL caliber goaltender next week (though the team would love that, there isn’t even room for the team to bring him up to the NHL). What we need to see from Gustafsson is improvement. Signs that he’s developing and that he could continue to develop into something that the Wild could rely on in a back-up capacity at the NHL level, at a minimum.

There’s been some reason for hope and this isn’t bad either. Gustafsson didn’t need to pitch four shutouts in Anchorage, he just needed to turn in some performances to build in. In his last two games — both wins — he stopped 28 of 30 for a .933 Sv% and then 27 of 28 for a .964 Sv%. Those are both very strong performances in games that were wide open and fast-paced. (Final scores: 7-2 and 6-1.) The second game was also the second in a back-to-back, something Gustafsson has struggled with.

All goaltenders will struggle in that situation, but Gustafsson will have to take the time given to him in those rough starts to prove something. It’s just a part of how the AHL schedule works. If he wants to be the guy for Iowa, he has to be better in those difficult starts.

Gustafsson, though the personal victories have been asterisked this season, needs to keep building on how he’s improved throughout the season. He may find his way back between the pipes for Iowa as early as Tuesday when the Wild take on the Hamilton Bulldogs on the road. If not then, he’s likely to see some time in the back-to-back coming up over the weekend against the Texas Stars in Des Moines.