Sweden's Gustavsson joins Leafs
Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson became a Toronto Maple Leaf on Tuesday, signing a one-year deal worth $900,000 US.
Gustavsson, a 24-year-old unrestricted free agent, made his choice after being approached by Toronto, Dallas, San Jose and Colorado.
Despite signing the Swedish netminder, Leafs general manager Brian Burke says Vesa Toskala is still Toronto's No. 1 between the pipes.
"He's not coming in trying to unseat a guy who has been here a long time, has a long-term contract and has had a lot of success," Burke said. "That being said, we were very frank with Jonas that we feel Vesa is going to have a big-time, bounce-back year now that he's healthy.
"Don't think you're going to walk in here and knock this kid out of the net. You're going to have to do something to do that."
Toskala, who had season-ending hip surgery in March, went 22-17 with a 3.26 goals-against average in 53 games with the Leafs last season. He's entering his final season under contract with Toronto.
The six-foot-three Gustavsson, nicknamed The Monster, played with Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League the past two seasons, registering four shutouts with a league-leading goals-against average of 1.96 and a .932 save percentage in 42 games. The team won the league championship in April, and he went on to play for his country at the world championships the following month.
'He makes himself big and the puck hits him'
"He's a butterfly goaltender that also has superb athletic ability and can make athletic saves," Burke said.
"He doesn't make saves, he blocks shots, he gets to the right place, makes himself big and the puck hits him. We think Jonas Gustavsson can do those technically sound things, get in position where a lot of pucks are going to hit him, but when he needs to he can make the athletic saves as well."
Toronto recently hired goaltending guru François Allaire, who has worked with Gustavsson in the past. Burke says that hiring, along with the Leafs' record with Swedish players on the roster including Mats Sundin and Borje Salming, played a role in Gustavsson's choice to sign with Toronto.
"I want to thank [Leafs general manager] Brian Burke and his staff for giving me the opportunity to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs," Gustavsson said in a release. "Toronto is a great city with tremendous fan support and I am very excited about the future."
At the 2009 world championship, Gustavsson helped Sweden to a bronze medal, posting a 3-2-0 record with a 2.83 GAA and .914 save percentage.
"Playing against Team USA he made a save with the shaft of his stick and I said, 'Well, that was a lucky save,' " Burke said. "He said, 'I practice that all the time,' totally deadpan.
"I don't know if he was pulling my leg or not."
With files from The Canadian Press