Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed coveted goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year deal. The 24-year-old Swedish goalie signed with the Leafs after checking out situations in Dallas, Colorado, and San Jose.
Burke says that he has no intention of moving Gustavsson into the starting position, however, and stands by Vesa Toskala as the Leafs’ top guy 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 is entering the final season of his contract with the Leafs and will earn about $4 million. He missed the last 18 games of last season after undergoing hip surgery. The Gustavsson signing, especially given the one-year term, appears to be an insurance policy in case something happens with Toskala again. The Leafs may look to sign him to a longer deal should things work out in the season.
“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.”
Posted by Jordan Richardson.