David Gustafsson Scouting Report: 2018 NHL Draft #43

David Gustafsson
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Despite being just 17-years-old, David Gustafsson graduated to the SHL this season playing 46 games for HV 71. He scored six goals and six assists for 12 points. Gustafsson was mainly used in a bottom six role but seemed to earn more minutes and responsibility as the season went along. He played in just two playoff games, as HV 71 were eliminated early. This saw him return to the J20 league, where he put up five points in five playoff games.

Gustafsson has been a regular member of the Swedish national teams in his age group. He won a gold medal at the 2016-17 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, putting up five points in six games. He also played as an underage player at the 2017 IIHF Under-18 World Championships, putting up two points in seven games. He also played in the 2017 Ivan Hlinka winning Bronze and scoring four points in five games. His best individual performance came at the 2018 Under-18, where he scored seven points in seven games and was named a Top Three Player on the team. He also won a bronze medal.

David Gustafsson Scouting Report

Centre — shoots Left
Born April 11th, 2000 — Tingsryd, Sweden
Height 6’2″ — Weight 196 lbs [188 cm / 89 kg]


Gustafsson has an awkward skating stride. While he still generates decent speed and acceleration, it could be a lot better with some refinements in his technique. His agility and edgework are also areas that can continue to improve in the coming years. One area that Gustafsson does excel though is in his lower-body strength. This allows him to fight through checks, and get to the front of the net. Strong balance helps him to win battles along boards and makes him strong on the puck.

Offensive Game

Gustafsson is a goal scorer. He gets to the front of the net and uses his size to screen goalies and create havoc in front of the net. While there, he has the hand-eye coordination to get deflections as well as the quickness to pounce on rebounds. He also has a quick one-timer in tight. Gustafsson has a strong and accurate wrist shot and snapshot. Both shots feature an extremely quick release that fools goaltenders.

Gustafsson is strong in puck possession and works well in the cycle. He controls the puck down low, and keeps the play moving. However, he is not a creative playmaker. Gustafsson makes the simple pass to an open teammate. Off the rush, he also plays a very north-south style of game, looking to create opportunities by getting the puck to the front of the net. He is also strong on the forecheck, pressuring opposing defenders, and creating offence out of the turnovers that are created.

Defensive Game

Gustafsson already plays a strong defensive game. He provides support and backpressure against the rush and supports the defence down low against the cycle game. Gustafsson is a smart player. He reads the play well and cuts down passing and shooting lanes. He uses his strong play on the boards in all three zones. Gustafsson is a strong penalty killer. He creates turnovers and can transition quickly to offence. He is also excellent on faceoffs.

Projection and Comparison

Gustafsson has the potential to be a second or third line centre in the NHL. He could be a valuable player, playing big minutes against top opposition, and providing secondary scoring. He must continue to work to improve his skating, as well as grow the confidence to take a few more chances and be a bit more creative with the puck in the coming years. Expect him to spend at least a season or two in Europe before coming over to try his hand at the NHL. Gustafsson’s game is reminiscent of Mikko Koivu but this is just a stylistic comparison, and not one based on talent or ability.


The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Gustafsson that are available on youtube.

Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

PLYMOUTH, MI – FEBRUARY 15: David Gustafsson #13 of the Sweden Nationals turns up ice against the Finland Nationals during the 2018 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on February 15, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. Finland defeated Sweden 5-3. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)