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Gustavsson's development on "good path"

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Pens goaltending prospect Filip Gustavsson can only sit and watch.

A knee injury has kept the second-round pick (55th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft from participating in the on-ice sessions of the Pens' annual development camp. 

"I've been off the ice so much you just want to get on the ice again," Gustavsson said. "The guys out there playing, it looks like fun."

Gustavsson, 19, completed his first pro season in 2016-17 with Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League. During the season he served as the club's backup behind starter Joel Lassinantti.

"I had some tough battles with the other goalie. But (Lulea) had a tough season and they focused on playing one goalie," Gustavsson said. "It's tough because you feel like you can play as good as he's playing, but you don't get the opportunity."

Since Gustavsson was making the leap to the pro game, Lulea opted to give Lassinantti, the club's starter the past three seasons, the bulk of the work.

Gustavsson played 15 games for Lulea, posting a 2.70 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. He also made two appearances in the postseason.

"Last year was my first year and they didn't think I was going to play as well as I did," Gustavsson said. "So they had him as the starter from the start."

But now that Gustavsson has a year of experience and adapted to the pro game, there will be an open battle for the starting position next season.

"Now I think we'll see who is going to be the starter," he said. "I have a chance to take the first spot. Hopefully I'm going to take it."

Pens goaltending coach Mike Buckley believes that Gustavsson has a great chance to be the guy next season.

"I think he's going to make a good push for that," Buckley said. "He played one year of pro. He's going through his second year. He knows what to expect. I think he developed a lot of confidence in the coaching staff there. I think he'll be fine."

That doesn't mean there weren't some growing pains for Gustavsson during his first season in pro hockey.

"When I stepped up from junior to pro in Sweden, everything was so much faster," Gustavsson said. "I didn't have the right technique to play in the fast game. Now it's starting to slow down."

 The Pens are stacked with goaltending depth in the organization. Obviously it all starts with Matt Murray's remarkable ascendance over the past two seasons, leading the team to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles.

The club also has Tristan Jarry (second-round pick, 44th overall, 2013 NHL Draft), who is scheduled to start for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this year, but could make the jump to the NHL by season's end.

And Gustavsson is another top-end goaltending prospect that the Pens scouts raved about last season when he was selected. And his development and projection is right on track.

"He's got a lot of talent," Buckley said. "His trajectory is on a good path." 

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