What Will We Get From the Monster? A Look At Jonas Gustavsson

What’s up, OilersNation? Emergency recall goalie Cat Silverman here, now on an OilersNation Standard Player Contract, to talk to you guys about Jonas Gustavsson a bit!

As someone who’s watched a lot of Toronto and Boston games during The Monster’s tenure in both cities, Gustavsson – affectionately referred to as Gus when he makes saves that I love and ‘My Worst Nightmare’ when he’s falling apart at the seams – is a goaltender I have a lot of mixed feelings about. 

He’s a bit of an early dropper (think Viktor Fasth), but has a frame that lends itself well to that. He’s flexible and aggressive. He’s got a flair for ‘big saves’, and he’s got NHL experience – so there’s no pressure to rush Laurent Brossoit into the NHL too early. 

He’s also got a nasty health history, a poor grasp of his own depth positioning, and an inconsistent resume. 

So… what does he bring, exactly?

On the Ice

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 9.15.26 PM

I won’t lie to you: there’s a lot about Gustavsson’s game that makes me nervous. 

His depth is my biggest problem with his game, because it aggravates all of his other flaws and highlights them in the worst possible way. Here’s an example:

It’s an active depth choice that he’s making, and he’s never quite gotten the hang of how to play more conservatively. 

For a goaltender of his size, he doesn’t need to come out nearly as far as he does – and unless the Oilers manage to restructure their defensive play enough by next year to compensate for his positioning, things could get ugly. 

Gustavsson is also what I refer to as an ‘early butterly’ goaltender, which is what it is. He likes to drop just a few seconds before the shot is actually released, giving the shooter – if they’re paying attention for it – time to redirect their shot. He’s an early decision-maker, almost to a fault; combined with his depth inconsistencies, that’s what took the highly hyped Monster and made it clear that he’ll likely never be more than a career backup. 

In the Room

There’s something to be said for a quintessential backup goaltender, though. 

Gustavsson is a genuinely nice guy; he’s got all the positivity and enthusiasm you want on the bench when he’s not in the game, and the bounce-back ability to recover from less than ideal games that a team like Edmonton needs. 

About seven years ago, he talked with my boss over at InGoal Mag about his transition to North America and some of the changes that he would need to make to his game – and he was both a great interview and an open, friendly personality. 

Ultimately, it’s possible that playing for Mike Babcock in Detroit hurt him in the long run, as Babcock is a bit of a proponent of aggressive goaltending depth – and that’s a weakness that Gustavsson had in his game that probably came back out after Francois Allaire tried to stamp it out of him. 

He’s a great personality to have on the team, though, and there’s a lot to be said for that. The Oilers don’t need to get rid of talent to bring in locker room charisma; having a guy like Gustavsson join the corps could be exactly what they need. 

In the Grand Scheme Of Things

Some of you are hesitant about Laurent Brossoit. That’s totally fine. 

Ultimately, young goaltenders – like nearly all young prospects who aren’t elite, top-tier performers at an abnormally early age – are some variation of a crapshoot. Until a young player has gotten their chance to play in a handful of NHL games – at any position – it’s generally a poor idea to enter a new season with no other option for a certain spot in the NHL lineup but them. 

That’s likely where Gustavsson fits in here. 

If Brossoit (understandably) needs more seasoning at the AHL level, there’s no need to rush him up to the NHL next year. The team isn’t in dire need of hitting the postseason, so development should still be a priority for players not named Connor McDavid. 

If Brossoit is ready for NHL action, though, Gustavsson isn’t a tandem starter who would produce negative value for the team by squandering as a healthy scratch or even being waived. He’s a player who, by all accounts, can fill in as a stopgap for Brossoit if needed this year, but isn’t an asset that will actively block the younger netminder from working his way up in the depth chart if he’s ready. 

Overall?

Is Gustavsson the goaltender that I, personally, would have snagged for the Oilers for their upcoming season? Not particularly. I think there were a few other options that, given the right environment, would have thrived more in this specific situation. 

All things considered, though, Gustavsson isn’t a long-term answer for Edmonton; he’s a stopgap and a positive locker room presence. Just get ready for a few absolutely deadly highlight-worthy goals… for the other team… on the nights he plays. 

  • CaptainLander

    Is there potentially a concern about losing Brossoit to expansion draft next year if he plays in the NHL this year? Could this be a reason why The Monster was signed?

    Brossoit did struggle but I think he is very close to being a decent backup. He has a history of struggling out of the gate, he struggled when he started in the ECHL only to dominate later. I believe the same is true for the AHL. (I could research this but am too lazy) If he is to raise his game to the NHL level he may need to play NHL games.

    • Just my opinion, but I don’t think there needs to be too much worry about Brossoit. I think there are too many other tandems where 1 will be exposed that likely has more value than Brossoit. However, a lot is likely to change between now and the expansion draft……i noted some comments below that impact my example….

      Ward/Lack (ok, maybe this is a weak example)

      Luongo/Reimer

      Bobrovsky/Korpisalo (same here)

      Mrazek/Howard (howard’s contract risk?)

      Fleury/Murray (do the pens have to protect murray?)

      Bishop/Vasilevsky (bishop might get traded?)

      Miller/Markstrom

      Pavelec/Hutchinson

      • Well spotted, I would also add Lundqvist / Raanta (very underrated goalie, could be primed for number one job)

        Not to mention, and I hate to say it, but the Elliot / Johnson duo in Calgary could be bait.

        Looking at Calgary’s roster, they will likely protect Brouwer, Frolik, Gadreau, Monahan, I don’t think they need to protect Bennet, but if they did they have room. Considering on the back end really they just need to protect Brodi, Gio, and Hamilton. Given that, there’s not a lot of other players on that roster a GM would take. Bollig is a UFA next year so he doesn’t even need protection, they simply just need to resign him after the expansion. Maybe Ferland, but still the team has room to protect him.

        Just saying, the Flames probably don’t want Chad Johnson to play too well, cause the rest of the team is absolute crap.

    • Jehu23

      pretty sure the chances LB would be claimed if left exposed is very close to 0%. IMO the new Vegas GM will likely use the G position to get to the salary cap floor (think Ward/Reimer) on a relatively short or reasonably trade-able contract. This strategy would allow Vegas to free up cap space for season 2 or 3 free agent signings to accelerate their ability to complete.

  • Turd Furgeson

    Early prediction. Talbot struggles early bc of equipment changes, gustavson not the awnser, defence struggles as a result if bad gialtending, fans clamor for a goat find larsen run him out of town. Chia responsible for mess gets fired rebuild starts again, lowe mact and howsen keep thier jobs.

    The cycle of loosing continues bc of poor management.

    • I can see some of this happening, but I wouldn’t goat Larsson – he didn’t ask to be traded for Hall so it isn’t his fault but Chiarelli’s and upper management.

      Definetly seemed to be better options out there, I guess they think Talbot can play 70+ games so didn’t want to spend cap space on goaltending. Sub par signing.

    • Hemmercules

      As much as I wanna trash that, it just sounds way too Oilers.

      I have never considered abandoning the Oil as a fan but if Mact, Howsen or Lowe somehow find themselves back in the GM chair I will have to seriously consider it.

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    The Monster also has a habit of being a rebound machine.

    Teams that know him know that they can make a tape-to-tape pass from one wing to the other using Gus’s pads in bumper pool fashion.

  • fisherprice

    Yeah, still concerned about this signing. Gustavsson has kind of shown that he’s not much more than a low-tier backup. He is also 31, a known quantity, and I doubt we’re going to see anything much better than his underwhelming career numbers (.902 sv% in 172 GP :/). Nothing Brossoit has done recently has me convinced he’s particularly ready for any sort of NHL job at this point (average stats in the AHL doesn’t exactly scream ‘NHL time!’).

    As much as I like Cam Talbot, I think we’re overrating him in Oilers land because he put up league average starter stats on a team that hadn’t had that for several seasons prior. He’s a good goalie, but hardly some workhorse 60+ game superstar guy like Holtby or Schneider, which is the kind of guy you need with this kind of backup situation.

    The Oilers are also still pretty disorganized as a defensive unit and tend to give up more Grade A chances than most teams and Gustavsson is a flailing goalie who over relies on his size – I can see some pretty rough games this season when he draws in.

    Chad Johnson (very good backup, not quite a starter) would have been someone to go after but the Flames beat us to that. Honestly, this still doesn’t make sense to me when even Jhonas Enroth (an okay backup) is still a UFA.

    The short of it is that we better hope Larsson is as good as Chia thinks he is and that this team provides a lot of goal support if there’s to be any reasonable hope at the playoffs. I’m pretty skeptical on both those things.

    10 years and counting, guys. Sigh. I shouldn’t be this depressed by mid-July about the upcoming season. At least there will be Connor to watch all year.

  • Gustavsson makes me nervous already: A) bad goals B) injuries……

    Difficulty is what are the other options? Ramo or Enroth? Both are only slight upgrades over Gustavsson…..i guess time will tell.

    Most Oiler fans have hopefully learned to temper expectations at this time of year

  • Jay (not J)

    Can he just go in and beat the Flames when we play them? For at least 6 games next season let’s let the 00’s Burkie be right about ‘the best goalie not playing in the NHL’. other than those games, here’s hoping LB really comes on next season.

  • Why do you not write articles more often? Great stuff.

    If the Oilers wanted a good locker room presence who could stop the occassional puck playing about 14 – 20 games, I kind of wish they brought back Bryzgalof. He would have been worth it for the soundbites alone.

    But, with this signing I don’t see it as stone. Chi is not shy about sending players on one way deals down and bringing up better talent. Much like Anders Nilsson last year, Gus will be here to give Brosiott something to fight for.

    Of all Chirelli’s moves from his time as GM anywhere, one thing you can’t knock him for is his ability to find goalies. I don’t know if it’s him, or someone on his staff, but the guy knows goalie talent. So until he proves me otherwise, I trust this move.

  • Harry2

    “The team isn’t in dire need of hitting the postseason, so development should still be a priority for players not named Connor McDavid.”

    Where the hell have you been the last 10 years?
    Stick to the Leafs. Figure it out Cat.

    • Hemmercules

      I used to enjoy your posts. Seems lately you just pop in with a quick knock on the team and leave it at that. All fair points though, things dont seem to be improving much from where I sit either……..

  • OilCan2

    Talbot and LB are solid enough with JG being a decent signing.

    Gus will be a good team mate and provide cover for LB to go out and have another All Star AHL year.

  • fisherprice

    I don’t get where the faith in Brossoit at the NHL level is coming from. Young goalies who make the jump smoothly to the NHL are ones who post excellent numbers in the AHL (see Matt Murray, Jacob Markstrom, Connor Hellebuyck). Brossoit is currently a pretty good goalie in the AHL – slightly above average GAA and SV%. While his stint with the big club last year was short, it was pretty much an unmitigated disaster – 5 GP with .873 SV% and 3.60 GAA – that’s not a guy who seems ready to handle any sort of significant workload at the NHL level. Which is fine. He’s 23, that’s young for a goalie. He has talent and there’s even good signifiers he could be a very solid goalie down the line.

    He has not shown, in any way, that he is ready to be relied on though, even as a backup. He’s a guy you want as a third-stringer and if he plays well and earns more ice time, great. I just don’t think Talbot is a good enough starter to justify having a sub-par backup and a young third-stringer who MIGHT be good one day as your only goaltending insurance. Quite frankly, if Talbot goes down or has a lengthy bad streak at any point this season, I think we’re going to be looking up Nolan Patrick highlights by December.

    We’re counting on a lot of things going right for this season to turn out decently:

    – Larsson and Klefbom as an effective first pair.
    – Fayne not sucking.
    – A better power play even though there is still no power play QB on this team.
    – Talbot staying consistent and healthy.
    – Draisaitl excelling without Hall as a security blanket.
    – Lucic being a 60+ point guy.
    – Nurse taking a big step in his development.
    – Brossoit or Gustavsson being a reliable backup option even though neither has ever proven this at the NHL level.
    – A normal amount of injuries instead of the absurd amount of injuries to key players that always seem to kill the Oilers quickly in the season.

    At a minimum, all of this has to happen for the Oilers to be a competitive playoff team. It certainly is POSSIBLE, and hell I hope it all happens and Connor gets 130 points and wins the Hart. It’s just we see the same thing every year – management that relies on a bunch of precarious situations involving young players for success. Maybe this is the year where everything clicks and the team takes the next step, but I’ve just seen it fail too many times in a row to have any sort of unwavering faith at this point.