I’m not the first to say this but I would like to add my voice to the gathering masses that just want the Toronto Maple Leafs to let Jonas Gustavsson play for the remainder of the season.
It’s time to find out exactly what they have in “The Monster”, and decide if the flashes of greatness (or the flashes of mediocrity) are the real stick with which to measure the 25 year old NHL rookie. There have been moments when Gustavsson looked like he was on the brink of breaking out as a true #1 NHL goaltender, only to watch him allow a weak goal or over-read a play and end up committed to a shot while the opposing player passes for an easy tap in goal.
Personally, I prefer an aggressive goaltender like Gustavsson, who comes out to challenge a shooter. In my opinion this was the biggest problem for Vesa Toskala, sitting on the goal line and giving away the upper half of the net. It’s easier to make an aggressive player dial it back a bit then it is to make a passive one more aggressive, as we’ve seen with Toskala. Let’s face it, if we know what Toskala needed to do to be successful, so did Vesa but he was unable to change his game.
Gustavsson has had decent numbers on an under-achieving team but it really is time to see what he can do with a stretch of consecutive games to get comfortable. If it turns out he isn’t capable it would be far better to figure that out now, he will be a RFA after this season and will be looking for more then the $910 Thousand he signed for this year as an introductory contract.
His 2.94 GAA and .902 Save% is passable considering the supporting cast but it’s important to remember that a young goaltender can improve vastly playing on a bottom-feeder team like the Leafs, where he will see a lot of rubber every night. If you consider Roberto Luongo’s time in Florida he faced almost 2500 shot’s in 2003/04 and again in 2005/06 (consecutive season considering the lockout). This is when Luongo emerged as a premier NHL goaltender. I’m not saying that “The Monster” is the next Luongo, but it’s imperative for Brian Burke to know what he needs to do in net going into next season.
It’s time to throw Jonas in the pool and see if he’ll swim.