Sustr, 31, has only played for two NHL organizations in his pro career, the Lightning and the Ducks–though the latter was for a very brief stint. In 2018 the hulking defenseman signed a one-year, $1.3MM contract with Anaheim and was expected to be a full-time part of the blueline. Instead, he played only five games in a Ducks uniform and spent most of the season in the minor leagues. That season spent in the AHL led to his departure from North America, as he left for the KHL to play two seasons after that one year in the Anaheim organization.
Now he’s back, though it’s still unclear how much playing time he’ll actually get with the Ducks. Sustr has played in 15 games with the Lightning this season but averaged just over ten minutes of ice time, and has spent much more time in the minor leagues with the Syracuse Crunch. Because he was claimed on waivers he’ll remain in the NHL for now, though Anaheim’s defensive depth chart isn’t much easier to crack than Tampa Bay’s.
In fact, his acquisition will raise some eyebrows around the league, given the pending unrestricted free agency of Josh Manson and Hampus Lindholm and general manager Pat Verbeek’s clear message that he will trade them if unable to reach extensions. Even with Manson on injured reserve the Ducks appear to have at least seven players that would be working ahead of Sustr, though perhaps head coach Dallas Eakins wants to insert some more size into the lineup.
At any rate, it means for now the 31-year-old will continue to earn his NHL salary and get a chance at NHL action, instead of returning to Syracuse where he would make significantly less.