Gustavsson makes decision, signs with Maple Leafs Staff

7/7/2009 5:45:57 PM

Swedish free agent goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has decided to call Toronto home.

Gustavsson, who is nicknamed "The Monster," has signed a one-year deal with the Leafs worth $810,000, including a signing bonus of $90,000, to back up current starter Vesa Toskala.

"Jonas is considered by many to be the best goaltender not playing in the NHL today," said Maple Leafs' general manager Brian Burke. "He has a unique combination of size and agility and we're excited to add a player with his potential to our roster."

The 24-year-old Gustavsson visited several NHL clubs before choosing the Maple Leafs; Colorado, San Jose and Dallas being the others interested in signing him.

"I want to thank Brian Burke and his staff for giving me the opportunity to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs," said Gustavsson. "It is truly an honor and privilege and I feel very fortunate to wear the Blue and White sweater. Toronto is a great city, with tremendous fan support, and I am very excited about the future."

Burke was clear that this was not a direct threat to current number one Toskala.

"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," said Burke. "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."

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.

CP Files were used in this report.