Sunday, June 21, 2009

The battle to sign Jonas Gustavsson

It appears to be a 4-way battle to sign free agent Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson between Toronto, Colorado, San Jose and Dallas. Gustavsson just completed a tour of the 4 NHL cities and some people are saying the Leafs have the leading contenders (mostly Toronto media I suspect). Every team has had the big guns out trying to win him over. The collective agreement caps entry level salaries so money will not be the deciding factors. His representatives have indicated that he does not expect to be a starting goalie and realizes it would be better not be a starter right away. But he would like lots of playing opportunity. Here is what Gustavsson has been looking at:

Dallas Stars

Fabian Brunnstrom is a good friend of Gustavsson's has been talking to him. Les Jackson was the man who won the recruiting battle to sign Brunnstrom and has directed the Stars' recruiting effort with Gustavsson. Also a big player has been Stars goaltending consultant Andy Moog, who visited Gustavsson in Sweden with Stars scout Johan Garpenlov. Everyone is getting the Swedes out to meet with Gustavsson. The Stars have not been happy with their backup goaltending which means too much work for starter Marty Turko. Dallas would like to have a backup play 20-25 games. Turko who is 33 will be a UFA at the end of the season is using up $5.7 million of salary cap space.

Colorado Avalanche

It has been confirmed that Peter Forsberg has talked to the goalie and so have other players though Avs management isn't saying who. He also met with new coach Joe Sacco, and team management. The Avs have no goalie at the moment having decided not to bring back Peter Budaj or Andrew Raycroft. Colorado acknowledges they are not the front runners and are the only ones able to offer a starting job right away. It is well known that this franchise is currently a mess.

San Jose Sharks

Starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov is also 33 and on the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $5.375 million. Backup Brian Boucher is a free agent. There’s a connection between the Sharks and Joe Resnick, the agent who represents Jonas Gustavsson. Resnick and John Thornton, brother of center Joe Thornton, are the two co-founders of Top Shelf Sports Management. Who knows if that means anything here.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs have gone all out in the hunt of "The Monster" as Gustavsson is referred to. Brian Burke has already met with him several times. The Leafs had fellow Swede Jonas Frogren talk up the team with Gustavsson. Leaf legend Borje Salming had a word with him. But the Leafs feel their ace in the hole is goalie guru Francois Allaire who has already had the opportunity to work briefly with Gustavsson.