What Jonas Gustavsson to the Leafs Means to Martin Biron

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IJuly 7, 2009

Sportsnet.ca reported earlier this morning that the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year contract to backup goalie Vesa Toskala.

"The Monster" will make $900,000 in his first season in the NHL.

Gustavsson was one of the prizes of the offseason that many teams were interested in, and it the final decision was rumoured to have come down to either Toronto or the Dallas Stars.

Ultimately, he chose the Leafs over the Stars.

The 24-year-old left-handed catching netminder was the best goalie in the Swiss Elite League this past season, posting a 1.96 goals against average and a .932 save percentage leading his team to a Swedish Championship.

He appeared in 42 games for Farjestads BK.

Toronto gets a 6'3", 192-pound goalie who will likely push Toskala for the starting job, certainly will force Toskala to be on the top of his game.

The Gustavsson signing is another huge step forward for the Maple Leafs, who haven't made the playoffs since 2003-04 when the Philadelphia Flyers beat them in a memorable six game series in the second round.

First, they hired Brian Burke during the season as their general manager and you knew that was a great move in itself. He has got rid of some bad contracts and some other players that he doesn't think are good enough to win.

He has already put his own touch on the Leafs.

On July 1, Burke signed enforcer Colton Orr to a four year, $4 million contract. Orr adds a tough guy that can drop the gloves, something Burke stated he wanted to add to the Leafs.

He wanted to add toughness.

Then he signed defenceman Mike Komisarek to a five-year deal worth $4.5 million. Komisarek will provide a physical presence the the Toronto blue line.

Burke then traded highly paid veteran defenceman Pavel Kubina to the Atlanta Thrashers for Garnet Exelby and Colin Stuart. They received a decent young defenceman in Exelby, but the main thing, he's cheaper than Kubina.

Toronto didn't stop there. Monday, they signed free agent defenseman Francois Beauchemin, which opens the door for Tomas Kaberle to be traded. Beauchemin is a fine defenceman that played behind Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger in Anaheim.

Now he gets his chance to prove himself without two of the best defenseman ever to play the game besides him or on his team. He'll add some offense to their blue line while providing a steady force to the defense.

It's likely that Burke will trade Kaberle out west for an offensive forward that can score some goals. Teams believed to be interested are the Vancouver Canucks and the St. Louis Blues. Boston was interested, but they were unable to work out a deal.

The Maple Leafs still need some depth at forward, and have nine NHL-caliber defenseman on the roster. Kaberle is by far their best piece that they can move to land a top-six forward.

By no means, Burke or the Leafs are done. Kaberle will be traded soon, maybe another trade as well, and don't count out another free agent signing or two. There are rumours that the Leafs will sign Travis Moen, who was with the Ducks when Burke was in Anaheim.

Burke could have the Leafs in the playoffs this season, which is a huge step forward.

This news isn't good for former Flyers goalie Martin Biron.

The 31-year-old netminder is still without a job seven days into free agency. There were rumours a few days ago that the Los Angeles Kings offered him a contract, but that seemed to die down.

Chuck Gormley suggests that Biron may have to settle for a backup role worth $1 million. He lists Toronto and Colorado as possible destinations. Cross Toronto off that list, and I would cross the Avalanche off because they also re-signed Peter Budaj.

Could he go to Russia or another European team? Possibly. He wants $3.5 million and he wants to be a starter so that's not completely absurd thinking. You've seen plenty of guys leave the NHL because of lack of interest or opportunity.

In Flyers related news, Tim Panaccio has reported that the Flyers are interested in signing Brendan Shanahan to fill the void on the wing. Gormley also reported it as well, and he suggested that the Flyers are interested in Chris Gratton and Mike Sillinger.

Shanny, 40, would add another veteran leadership presence in the Flyers dressing room. Shanahan brings Stanley Cup experience to the Flyers, if he were to sign, and that's something general manager Paul Holmgren is looking for.

The two had mutual interest in January, but Shanahan signed with the New Jersey Devils for one-year worth $800,000.

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