The Gus Bus has arrived back in Winnipeg.
The Jets and prospect forward David Gustafsson agreed on a two-year deal on Wednesday, with an annual average value of $775,000 for the 22-year-old Swede. The deal is a two-way contract for the upcoming 2022-23 season, before turning into a one-way contract for 2023-24.
Gustafsson was the final restricted free agent on Winnipeg’s summer to-do list after the Jets locked up forward Mason Appleton last earlier this week, avoiding arbitration with the Green Bay native.
Gustafsson played just two games with the Jets last season, with injuries hampering his bid for regular playing time with the big club. With the Manitoba Moose, Gustafsson featured in 47 games, scoring 15 goals and adding 15 helpers. He posted one assist in five playoff games.
A second-round pick by the Jets back in 2019, Gustafsson has suited up 28 times with the Jets, scoring one goal (a beauty against the San Jose Sharks during the 2018-19 season). He is no longer waivers exempt, meaning he will have to clear waivers if he is to be sent down to the Moose at any point.
The Jets, meanwhile, have $6.279 million in cap space remaining in what’s been a quiet off-season for a franchise marred with problems both on and off the ice last year.
It remains to be seen if the Jets use that space to acquire some depth pieces on forward, or if they look at guys like Gustaffson, who have been marinating in the minors for some time, to fill bottom-six roles with the club this fall.
There remain several free agents on the market that could help bolster Winnipeg’s depth up front, including the likes of Evan Rodrigues, Sonny Milano and Daniel Sprong, among others.