The Monster of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavsson says he will decide in the next few weeks which NHL team he will sign with, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are high on his list.
"I didn’t see them [the Leafs] a lot this year and they have a pretty good club," said Gustavsson after a Swedish practice at the men's world hockey championship in Switzerland. "It is a good team."
Gustavsson wasn’t on the radar for the Swedish national team when the 2008-09 season began but he improved and then earned the nickname, The Monster, while registering five shutouts in 13 Swedish Elite League playoff games for the club team Farjestad.
Overnight, the goalie few people had ever heard of became one of the top unsigned, unrestricted free agents in the hockey world.
The Maple Leafs have Vesa Toskala under contract for next season and general manager Brian Burke wants someone to come in to a) challenge Toskala for the No. 1 job; and b) provide the Leafs with a solid backup.
Burke has held contract talks with The Monster’s agent and took time at the world championship for a meet-and-greet with Gustavsson.
"We will see what happens after the tournament," said Gustavsson, adding about 24 of the NHL's 30 teams have contacted his agent and the list has been pared down to less than a handful.
"I can say that Toronto is still there," he said.
While playing in the NHL is a top priority for Gustavsson, he sounded like he would settle for the role as backup while he adjusted to the NHL’s style of play.
"I don’t know what kind of situation would be the best, to have a chance to really play or be behind a good goalie [i.e. being a backup]," he said.
Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson had an eye-level look at Gustavsson at the world tournament. Wilson is head coach of the United States and the Swedes rallied from a four-goal deficit to beat the Americans 6-5 in overtime.
"Their goalie was unbelievable. How many games do you see a goalie get the best player's award when he gave up five goals?" Wilson said. "There were times that we couldn't believe [Gustavsson] made the saves."
As for his nickname, Gustavsson says he is not a "monster."
"It was my coach that said, 'yes, we allowed a few goals but we had a monster back there in net.' And then it kept going."