Busy Leafs Sign 'Monster' Goalie
None of this, however, has stopped general manager Brian Burke from being a very busy guy since the Stanley Cup Finals ended. The Leafs have made a notable trade, signed two big defensemen (Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin), and have now picked up a "Monster" to help them out in goal.
Burke spent time in Sweden last week, and it wasn't just to try to lure the Sedins to Toronto. He also took a shot at Swedish goalie Jonas "Monster" Gustavsson, who had made clear he was going to sign in the NHL. Among the suitors were Dallas and San Jose, but Gustavsson accepted a one-year deal from the Leafs.
Gustavsson posted impressive numbers last season in the Swedish Elite League, leading Farjestad to a championship. He had a .932 save percentage during the regular season, drawing a ton of attention from the NHL.
The one-year, $900,000 deal gives Gustavsson a chance to compete for a starting job on a team that is low on top young goaltenders. To say that the seven-game run of Justin Pogge was a disappointment (.844 save percentage, 4.36 goals against) would be a crass understatement. No way that he is handed anything during training camp, especially with Gustavsson around.
With a few moves, Burke has totally reshaped the defensive core of the Maple Leafs. Assuming they keep Tomas Kaberle in the fold, Toronto now has Kaberle, Komisarek, Beauchemin, Jeff Finger, and young phenom Luke Schenn as his top five defensemen. Gustavsson, even if only half as good as advertised, is an immediate upgrade in goal.
There's a good chance Toronto will still experience some issues when it comes to generating consistent offense. On the bright side, they now know they won't get torched in their own zone on a regular basis. It's one more step for Burke in his effort to restore the Leafs into a playoff contender.