Mentally Weak, Out of Shape Filip Gustavsson Enters Offseason on Wild Trade Block

Minnesota Wild, Filip Gustavsson
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild’s season is over. It’s the first time they’ve missed the NHL Playoffs since 2018-19 and, according to reports, there was still a sense of shock today when players, along with head coach John Hynes and president of hockey operations Bill Guerin, met with media following player/coach exit interviews.

But reports today, surrounding one player’s exit interview, stuck out among the others. Filip Gustavsson had a career year in 2022-23, and it earned him a lucrative contract extension that never would have been foreseeable at the beginning of the season. But, he fell back to earth last year.

His save percentage dropped from 2nd highest in the league in ’22-’23 (.931), down to .899 this season; and his goals against average went up from 2.10 in ’22-’23, to 3.06 in ’23-’24. How did such a fall from grace happen?

Filip Gustavsson was admittedly out of shape and mentally weak this season

Minnesota Wild, Filip Gustavsson
Photo: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

According to Michael Russo and Joe Smith (The Athletic), he was out of shape this season, something that seems to have been an issue all year long. Not a good look for a guy who just signed a new contract last offseason.

There’s little doubt that Hynes talked pointedly to Gustavsson about his fitness level because Gustavsson openly talked about needing to come into camp in “the best shape I can be” next season and also volunteered, “I have some personal things I need to sort out to be even better for my own sake going out and play goalie every night.”

The Athletic

In 2024, being physically out of shape, as a professional athlete, is completely unacceptable. Your job is to be in the best shape possible, so you can perform at the highest level, which is why you are paid millions of dollars to play hockey.

Related: Minnesota Wild Sign Marc-Andre Fleury to Contract Extension

But, that brings us to Gustavsson’s other admitted issue this season. Mental weakness. Last year, when Gus Bus came out of nowhere and the Wild won just about every time he took the net, life was good. But when he and the team struggled this season, Filip crumpled like a wet paper bag and he knows it.

Gustavsson alluded to [his fitness level] in Los Angeles last week, as well, saying that mentally he needs to be much stronger in the net so his game doesn’t disintegrate during tough moments.

“The brain is big thing in how people work,” Gustavsson said. “If the brain isn’t there, you don’t perform at your highest level. … If you’re winning, it’s very easy. You just feel happiness, (getting) two points all the time and life is good. When you lose a few or you play bad, you start questioning yourself. Or the team is playing bad and stuff like that, how to handle it in a better. More just control what you can control.”

The Athletic

Look, Gus Bus is right about how tricky the mental side of, not just sports, but life can be sometimes. If your brain isn’t battling for you, it’s difficult to stop it from being your own worst enemy.

Gustavsson starts offseason on Minnesota Wild trade block

But again, coming into the season out of shape should never happen, especially for a goalie. There is so much pressure on you to perform that the last thing you would want to wear on you would be the type of physical shape you’re in.

And let’s be real, that’s probably the biggest reason why he will enter this offseason on the Minnesota Wild trade block, according to this same report from The Athletic.

Gustavsson, who has already been traded twice in his NHL career, has a sense the writing is on the wall and that he’ll be dangled in the trade winds this offseason, especially after a season in which he admits he was way too inconsistent between the pipes.

The Athletic

Marc-Andre Fleury is coming back for his 40-year-old season and former 1st round pick Jesper Wallstedt doesn’t need anymore seasoning in the AHL, meaning Gustavsson’s underperformance in 2023-24 more than likely means he won’t be in a Wild sweater for 2024-25.

“He’s a very talented guy and I think the big thing a lot of players have to learn is that a lot of them are here because of talent, but then how do you take that talent and make it excellent or elite? A lot of times it’s all the things surrounding the game. It’s your mental toughness. It’s your mental mind state. It’s your fitness. It’s how you practice. And it’s how you prepare.”

John Hynes – via The Athletic)
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