Monster to Boston on a PTO

Various sources including HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman reported today that free agent goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, aka the Monster, will come to Boston Bruins training camp on a professional tryout agreement.

The 30-year-old originally came to the NHL for the 2009-10 season as a free agent signing by the Toronto Maple Leafs out of  Färjestad BK, where he had a season for the ages in 08-09. He posted a sub-2.00 GAA in both regular season and playoffs, leading his club to the Swedish Elite League championship with a 1.03 GAA and otherworldly .961 save percentage in 13 games.

He played 2 seasons of 42 games each for the Leafs sandwiched between a forgettable 23-game stint in 2010-11, when James Reimer came in at mid-season and made an immediate splash. Gustavsson spent the last three seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, where he struggled with injuries in two of the years he spent there.

Gustavsson is the modern NHL goaltender- big, agile and quick. He squares up and plays the butterfly style, but he’s pretty active and comes out of the paint to keep shooters honest.

If the reports are true and he is with the Bruins as an invite, the move makes perfect sense, as it was hard to imagine the club trusting backup duties to one of the current trio of Jeremy Smith, Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre. That’s not a knock on any one of them- they’re eager, capable players. They also don’t have a single complete NHL game in the books between them, so assuming Gustavsson plays well enough in camp and signs for the league minimum, the club at least has an NHL-experienced backup who has had an up-and-down NHL career, but has flashed impressive ability at times in his 148 games.

I like it because it takes the pressure off the youngsters by giving Claude Julien a veteran player in net that he’ll be less risk averse to when it comes to spelling Tuukka Rask. I like the move- it gives the youngsters the chance to keep playing (though the B’s might need to loan Smith to another team if they want McIntyre to play in the AHL next year- otherwise, he might end up in the ECHL), which is not a bad thing for developing goaltenders, even if they themselves would be more than happy up with the big club playing sparingly.

Of course, if he stinks out the joint or gets hurt (either one or perhaps both are distinct possibilities), then we’re right back to square one.

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