The “Monster” has landed in Hockeytown. Jonas Gustavsson is coming to the Detroit Red Wings as he agreed to terms on a two-year contact worth $3 million with the club earlier this afternoon. Gustavsson, 27, who was signed as an unrestricted free agent, posted a 17-17-4 record with a 2.92 goals against average, .902 save percentage and four shutouts with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. His negotiating rights were traded to the Winnipeg Jets last weekend.
Over his three-year NHL career, Gustavsson’s career record is 39-45-15 with a 2.98 goals against average, .900 save percentage and five shutouts. Before coming to Toronto, the “Monster” was one of the top goalies outside North America, but dealing with medical issues and playing for a team like the Maple Leafs have been a speed bump so far.
On three occasions over the past 16 months, he has had to deal with his heart; with the most recent was back on February 2011 during his AHL stint with the Maple Leafs’ affiliate, the Marlies. Gustavsson underwent a heart ablation and hasn’t had any issues since.
This was a good signing by the Red Wings. Even though the team needs help on the blueline and at forward, the backup goalie issue had to be addressed. With Howard sidelined in early February with a broken finger, Joey MacDonald was brought up last year and outplayed Ty Conklin and eventually became the backup.
On the flip side, MacDonald had to deal with back issues and it’s uncertain what his future will be with the Red Wings organization. He has one year left on his contract and will make $500,000 in 2012-13. Either he’ll be sent back to Grand Rapids so he can help mentor the young goaltenders (i.e. Thomas McCollum, Jordan Pearce and the soon to be arriving Petr Mrazek) or the Red Wings brass can buy him out. My guess is that he’ll be down on the farm in Grand Rapids.
From what I’ve seen out of the “Monster” (a nickname given to him because of his 6’4″, 195 lb frame), he’s a really good athlete, always in good position and he covers a lot of net. Being surrounded in a toxic locker room in Toronto last season wasn’t the best thing for him (or anybody playing for the Leafs), but playing for an organization like the Red Wings will bring the best out of him.
He’ll also be surrounded by fellow Swedes Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and possibly Gustav Nyquist. Even though Jimmy Howard is the number one man between the pipes, he will be pushed by Gustavsson and it will make a fun and healthy competition between. If he can stay healthy (especially without having problems with his ticker), Jonas Gustavsson will achieve “Rock Star” status in the Motor City and he’ll prove that the Red Wings signing him will be a “Monster” of a steal.
About the Author: Alex lives in Hockeytown, USA. He is a huge Red Wings fan going back to the 1985-86 season when they were dead last with 40 points. He has seen the transition from the 'Dead Wings' to one of the top franchises in sports. You can also follow him at twitter.com/alexmuscat73.