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With deal sealed, Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson out to prove hes worth it

With deal sealed, Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson out to prove hes worth it
Published On: Tue, Mar 13
Apr 21, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center Robby Fabbri (15) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson (52) reach for a loose puck at center ice during the second period in game five of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Gustafsson laughed when asked if he wished he could sign a contract extension every day.

Yeah, he said. No, I feel grateful for the contract. Im blessed.

Since signing the two-year, $2.4 million deal a week ago, Gustafsson has two goals and four assists in four games. The defenseman, who turns 26 on Wednesday, had one goal and four assists in 18 games before that.

The early January call-up from Rockford had two assists in each of the last two games, including the primary assist on Patrick Kanes game-winning goal in Sundays 3-1 victory over the Bruins.

Its a coincidence, Gustafsson said. Of course Im more relaxed, but I dont think its anything to do with the contract.

Gustafsson said hes just trying to fit in, contribute and be a part of the teams future as it puts this season in the past. More importantly, he said, hes trying to rid himself of confidence issues that have plagued him.

His miscue on a neutral-zone turnover in Game 7 of the first-round series against the Blues in 2016 led to the game-winning goal " and led Gustafsson to Rockford for the next season-and-a-half.

Once he was summoned from coach Joel Quennevilles doghouse, Gustafsson was a healthy scratch the first four games after he was called up. But knowing hes part of the teams future has helped erase some of the anxiousness that comes with the uncertainty Gustafsson faced before signing the contract.

Read the complete news article here...

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