Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where Does Gustavsson Sign?

Free Agent goalie, Jonas GustavssonAnother free agent from Sweden is sweeping through the NHL cities to find a good match. Jonas Gustavsson is doing the same kind of tour that Fabian Brunnstrom did last summer, in order to choose an NHL team best suited to his own tastes.

Gustavsson, 24, had a pretty big year in Sweden and there are a number of GMs in the NHL who think that he can translate those skills into a successful pro career in North America. Toronto, Dallas, Colorado and San Jose have all expressed interest in the netminder and he has returned their interest by including them in his tour of negotiations.

The Maple Leafs have Vesa Toskala in tow for at least another season, which could make a good transitition situation for the Gustavsson, who might not be ready for the rigors of being a number one just yet. The Leafs also have plenty of space under the cap to win a small bidding war for his services as well.

The Stars have been running a lot of seasons with Marty Turco, but you have to question whether or not Tobias Stephan is a worthy back-up for the time being. Turco also has a year left on his deal and they also have a number of Swedes on the team, including Brunnstrom, who could ease his entry into the league.

The Avalanche need a number one goalie this summer. If Gustavsson feels he needs to play a lot now, then the Avs will likely give him every opportunity in net, as both Andrew Raycroft and Peter Budaj were not capable of handling the duties.

The Sharks are a curious decision, more on the team's part, rather than the player's. Evgeni Nabokov has been a machine in the regular season, winning more than his fair share of games. He'll start the season at 34 years old, with one year left on his current deal, so I wonder if they are looking to someone who may be a little cheaper, in order to get more up front in 2010.

Personally, the Avalanche have the most playing time and could give the young netminder a chance to grow with a young team, where expectations may be a little bit lower to start. The Leafs will provide a good place to grow as well, learning as an understudy, but with the belief that he'll make that jump as soon as next season. I would have to think it's between those two clubs, from a career standpoint, but I really didn't think Brunnstrom was going to sign in Dallas last summer.

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