Maple Leafs sign goalie Gustavsson
TORONTO (AP) -- The Maple Leafs have landed "The Monster."
Toronto nabbed coveted Swedish free agent goalie Jonas Gustavsson with a one-year contract on Tuesday. The 24-year-old netminder, nicknamed "The Monster," was also heavily pursued by Dallas, San Jose and Colorado.
Gustavsson played for Farjestads in the Swedish Elite League last season, registering four shutouts with a league-leading 1.96 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in 42 games.
He also played for Sweden at the world championship, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.83 GAA and a .914 save percentage in helping his team to the bronze medal.
"I want to thank (Toronto general manager) Brian Burke and his staff for giving me the opportunity to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs," Gustavsson said in a statement. "Toronto is a great city, with tremendous fan support, and I am very excited about the future."
The 6-foot-3 Gustavsson, expected to be the backup to Maple Leafs starting goalie Vesa Toskala, led Farjestads to the league championship after allowing just 14 goals in 13 playoff games with five shutouts.
"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 played in 53 games last season with Toronto, going 22-17. He posted a 3.26 goals-against average with one shutout and .891 save percentage.
But he underwent season-ending hip surgery in March and missed Toronto's final 18 regular-season games. Toskala is entering the final year of his contract with the Leafs and is slated to earn $4 million.
At worst, Burke figures that Gustavsson will play behind Toskala and serve as a solid insurance policy should he get hurt again.
"He's a butterfly goaltender that also has superb athletic ability and can make athletic saves," Burke said. "Goaltending in our league has become the art of shot-blocking and that's what a butterfly goaltender does.
"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."
In other Maple Leafs news, Burke confirmed that the NHL is investigating possible tampering by Toronto coach Ron Wilson, who during a radio interview last week spoke of the team's interest in free-agent twin forwards Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
The Sedins ended up re-signing with the Vancouver Canucks last week.
"It's in the league's hands, the league is looking into it. We will abide by whatever decision they make," Burke said. "We don't like tampering. If they deem this to be tampering ... and they fine us or they fine the coach, you're not going to hear a peep out of us."