Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jonas Gustavsson's Roller Coaster Career

Despite being relatively short, Jonas Gustavsson's hockey career has been one of the more interesting ones in recent memory. Remember those weeks of speculation about where Jonas Gustavsson would sign in North America? Would it be Dallas? Would it be Colorado? No, it ended up being Toronto. Gustavsson had just led his Farjestad team to a championship in the Swedish Elite League and put up a 1.96 GAA and .932 SV% during the regular season. He had NHL GM's drooling, but it would be Toronto who would land the Monster to challenge Vesa Toskala for the starting job

Gustavsson brought in a lot of optimism his first season with his off-ice talk about wanting the starting job and looking forward to a strong future with the Maple Leafs organization. He battled through injuries, including a heart condition that required surgery and anything he accomplished during that rough first season could be called a miracle with the obstacles he was overcoming. He would finish 16-15-9 with a 2.87 GAA and .902 SV% through 42 games, good enough for a contract extension at $1.35M a year.

The following season he would play steadily in the fall, but after allowing 6 goals in a 7-0 loss to the New York Rangers, and James Reimer emerging has the best goalie on the Leafs, Gustavsson would be sent to the Toronto Marlies for a conditioning stint after spending a few nights in the press box getting rusty. Halfway through the conditioning stint though, the heart problems would occur again - possibly from a broken heart with Leafs Nation - and he wouldn't play another game for the Maple Leafs that season with Optimus Reim holding down the fort. Gustavsson would finish that season playing 23 games and posting a 3.28 GAA and .890 SV%.
This season, Gustavsson would find himself in a similar situation as he did as a rookie, challenging for the #1 job against the People's Saviour, James Reimer. While neither looked especially sharp in the pre-season, Reimer would start and get the job done before heading to the Injured Reserve with a suspected concussion. Goose would start 5 consecutive games going 3-2-0, but allowing 15 goals in the process. Ben Scrivens of the Marlies would get a shot to play and his streakiness in the cage continues with a 2-2-1 record.

Gustavsson's last start was November 8 against the Florida Panthers in which all faith was lost in him. After allowing 3 goals on 21 shots and often looking like Ilya Bryzgalov lost in the woods, he was pulled and later blamed his night on bad bounces. His goaltending stats are among the worst in the league, even worse than Columbus' Steve Mason. With rumours of the Leafs bringing in a veteran goalie to hold down the fort, Gustavsson looks to be on his way to the AHL or another NHL team as the Leafs confidence appears to be in Ben Scrivens at this time until James Reimer returns. Time is running out for the 27-year-old as you can't treat him as a young prospect anymore who deserves more time to prove himself. 

Is Jonas Gustavsson done in Toronto? Or does he get another chance to prove himself before Reimer returns?

7 comments:

  1. I remember thinking he was going to be a Top 5 keeper in the league... boy was I wrong

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  2. He's on and off. Some games good, some terrible! We'll see what happens with him.

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  3. Monster will end up backing up somewhere. Can't see him heading back to Sweden just yet.

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  4. Monster is brutal. He will end up playing rec hockey somewhere with Toskala in Europe

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