|Jonas Gustavsson, #50, Toronto Maple Leafs|
Last nights hockey game will likely mark the beginning of the end of the Gustavsson goaltending experiment in Toronto. It takes a special kind of goalie to play in this city. He has to be composed, confident, and skilled. It doesn't take much for the fans in Toronto to turn on you, as we have seen in recent years with Vesa Toskala and Andrew Raycroft, just to name a few. Without those three characteristics in perfect balance, this city will eat you up as a goalie.
Gustavsson, who is 27 years old and in the last year of his current contract, will likely be a free agent this summer. I hope the best for him, and I hope he thrives in a smaller market that doesn't demand perfection from their goalies. Without all the pressure on his shoulders, he may be able to find more consistency in his game.
As it stands now, the Leafs have two struggling goaltenders. Gustavsson has been known to make some really big saves, but let in some really bad goals. The other, James Reimer, hasn't shown that he will make the big saves for the Leafs as much as Gustavsson, but he has shown that he will let in few bad goals in comparison. In my opinion, the Leafs need a steady goaltender in Reimer down the stretch. It was pretty evident, by the look on the faces of several of the Leafs players, how they felt about Gustavsson in net on Tuesday night.
So, with the trade deadline just a few days away, why not move Gustavsson? There are a handful of teams around the league that have major goaltending woes and would likely take on Gustavsson for the remaining 20 or so games in the season. If he doesn't pan out, it's not a big deal because his contract is ending, but just maybe he can thrive in another market, and its a winning situation for both the Monster and his new organization.
In comparison, in November of 2006, the Leafs traded Mikael Tellqvist to the Pheonix Coyotes for Tyson Nash and a fourth round pick. The Leafs would end up using that fourth round pick to draft Matt Frattin, who has shown good signs of NHL potential. In my opinion, Jonas Gustavsson is a better goalie than Tellqvist was at the time the Leafs traded him. I don't think it would be unreasonable for the Leafs to get a fourth round pick in return, and maybe, just maybe the Leafs can turn that pick into something of value. The Leafs have had above average success with their fourth round picks in recent years. James Reimer and Korbinian Holzer along with Frattin were all fourth round picks.
The Leafs can give the goalie another chance in a smaller market, get a mid-to-late draft pick in return, and hope the best for everybody... Or they can keep him down the stretch. Either way, I would expect James Reimer to get the majority of the starts from here on out for the Leafs.