After being picked up off waivers last January, Gus Forsling has been one of the most reliable players on the Florida Panthers.
In starting the 2021-22 season, he has taken his game to another level.
Forsling’s nine assists this season tie him for ninth in points and first in assists among NHL defensemen this season.
“That’s how we want to play,” Forsling said of generating offense from the blueline. “We want to be a threat in the rushes, so if we keep doing that, we will be a threat.”
The 25-year-old had five goals and 17 points in 43 games during his first season in Sunrise — an eight-point improvement from his previous NHL in Chicago in 2018-19.
“I wanted to do the same things I did to end off last year,” Forsling said. “I played pretty good the whole season pretty much and I’m just trying to do the same as last year.”
Forsling was paired with MacKenzie Weegar after Aaron Ekblad went down with a fractured leg in late February.
During the time he was paired with Weegar, he ranked 24th among defensemen in points (12), 20th in assists from a blueliner (nine), and eighth in the entire NHL in plus/minus (+16.)
“He’s obviously had a great start to the season,” Weegar said. “Last year, he stepped in and his skating is pretty noticeable out there. He’s a great skater.
“This year, I think he’s just more comfortable. I think there’s more familiarity around the room, knowing the coaching staff and knowing our systems a little bit more just makes him excel more. He’s really shown that this year.”
Forsling has been paired with Radko Gudas this season. Gudas brings a physical style of play alongside Forsling’s finesse and speed-based game and it has worked out well for the Panthers.
“I think it’s been going good,” Forsling said, when asked about playing with Gudas. “He’s a super nice guy, he’s super easy to talk to on and off the ice.”
Forsling is a guy who can drive play and start breakouts, and it shows.
He currently leads the league in secondary assists with seven, a lot of those come from some of his swift breakout passes to start a rush. He’s also a threat to take the puck away while also being safe with the puck, being tied for eighth in the NHL with 13 takeaways while only giving up the puck eight times.
The Panthers might not play again until Thursday, but they have a tough road ahead with the 5-0-3 Washington Captials and the 9-0-0 Carolina Hurricanes making visits to Sunrise this week.
“We got two big games coming up against two good teams, so we just have to stay ready,” Forsling said.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
WASHINGTON CAPITALS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WQAM 560-AM
- Last season: Did not play