TSN is reporting that Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson will sign with Toronto as early as today. Terms of the deal are said to one year for $810,000 plus a $90 thousand signing bonus. The Monster is expected to back up Vesa Toskala and make Pierre McGuire re-think his nickname du jour.
Labeled the best goaltender outside of the NHL last season, the 6’3″, 181 lb backstop was the top goalie in the Swedish Elite League last season while playing for Farjestad. He posted a 1.96 goals against average and a save percentage of .932 in the regular season, and led the team to the league championship this spring.
While the signing is good news for Toronto, fans should reserve judgment until he plays. I am somewhat skeptical of the “best player outside of the NHL” moniker given the Fabian Brunstrom affair and the Jiri Dopita debacle. Even players who have some success (see: Leino, Ville) haven’t exactly set the league on fire. The fact is that the best players are in the NHL (and AHL) and until Gustavsson proves otherwise, he will be just another good European goalie.
PS, just in case you thought everything was coming up roses for the Leafs, it looks like the NHL will be investigating the team on tampering charges.