Well, shoot. The Minnesota Wild will be without their future Hall of Fame goaltender for the foreseeable future.
Marc-Andre Fleury has been on an absolute tear lately. Since Oct. 20 he’s been one of the top five goaltenders in the league. His GSAA, as well as GSAx, are both top-five ratings in the NHL.
With Fleury out for who knows how long, that opens the door for first-year Wild netminder Filip Gustavsson.
Gustavsson had the chance to clock significant minutes at the end of last year with the Ottawa Senators. He played poorly, allowing over three and a half goals a game. He only won five of his 13 starts but you could give him the benefit of the doubt as the 2021-2022 Ottawa Senators were a team that let up the eighth-most shots in the league.
There are some bright spots on his resume, in a brief stint at the pro level during the 2020-2021 campaign he had a terrific save percentage of 0.933 and racked up five wins in eight games.
So far this year, Gustavsson has been solid in net. He started off a little bit rough but then again so did the entire team. In his last three starts, he has a save percentage of .945 with a goals against average of 1.667.
If the Wild need to lean heavily on him this year they may be in trouble. Gustavsson has never started more than 38 games in his career. He is still fairly new to the NHL.
He came into this season with a lot to prove and his chance is coming sooner than later. He was expected to take a role as a backup to Fleury. His role is now the Wild’s starting goalie.
His first test is against the team that drafted him: the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins are 6-7-3 and sit second to last but still have the big guns up front.
This will be a significant test for Gustavsson.
When the Wild traded Cam Talbot to the Senators they only received Gustavsson in return. It was a one-for-one trade. The Senators get a solid option in the net to hopefully stabilize their goalie situation. The Wild get a young goalie GM Bill Guerin is familiar with that has the potential to learn behind NHL legend Marc-Andre Fleury and play big minutes down the road.
Would the Wild want to have Cam Talbot now to provide another veteran presence in the crease? Was it dumb to acquire a goaltender with questionable NHL and AHL numbers playing in front of a subpar defense? Are they going to be able to stay afloat with Gustavsson in the net? Is the season doomed? Tank hard for Bedard? Fail for Fantilli?
Well, down the road came sooner than anyone could have thought. Does Gustavsson have it in him to lead this struggling Wild team between the pipes?
Time to find out.