Over at Pension Plan Puppets yesterday, they wondered what kind of contract the Leafs should give Jonas Gustavsson. The thinking there is that Gustavsson’s being named the starter so the Leafs can find out what they have in them, and that is undoubtedly one of the biggest questions the Leafs have to answer before the year ends.

After guessing at what the Gustavsson camp is looking for, considering the RFA situation and establishing more or less where Gustavsson sits as an NHL goaltender, PPP came to the following conclusion:

I’d say a fair offer at this point for Gustavsson would be a shorter term deal, 2-3 years at between $1.5M and $1.75M. That’s a decent raise that’s probably more than he’d get in arbitration at this rate and gives him a chance to prove that he’s worth more money to a club right around the time he’s 28.

The idea that Gustavsson’s contract will be inflated because the Leafs have no one else in the system should be ignored. If Gustavsson’s not the guy then it doesn’t matter who’s in the system the Leafs are going to lose with or without him. A short second contract gives him the opportunity to prove that he is “the guy”.

The contract range suggested here is a good guess, although I personally feel that the Leafs should probably opt for a one-year deal instead. I say that because the goaltending market seems to have hit an era of depression, and there’s no point in signing a guy who is still a question mark to a long-term contract, particularly given that the Leafs’ best option next year is to bring in a guy who can split time with Gustavsson (adding some built-in insurance).

The second paragraph quoted above is also spot-on. Alex Auld went for a sixth-round pick this summer, Jason Labarbera went for a seventh-round pick at last year’s trade deadline, and there are a ton of these 1B guys out there – all of whom are comparable in terms of performance to Gustavsson at this stage of his career.

To try and find comparables for Gustavsson, I went to CapGeek and took their list of contracts signed since June 30, and whittled it down to a list of goaltenders who might fit in as a broad set of comparables. Here’s the list; save percentage is from last season and age is from the start of this season:

Player Age NHL SV% Years MM/Yr.
Jonathan Quick 23 0.914 3 1.8
Brian Elliott 24 0.902 2 0.85
Josh Harding 25 0.929 1 1.1
Yann Danis 28 0.910 1 0.5
Kari Lehtonen 26 0.911 1 3
Antero Niittymaki 29 0.912 1 0.6
Jason Labarbera 29 0.901 2 1
Craig Anderson 28 0.924 2 1.813
Peter Budaj 27 0.899 1 1.25
Jonas Gustavsson 26 0.900    

The closest resemblances here, numbers-wise, are Peter Budaj, Jason Labarbera and Brian Elliott, with Budaj’s $1.25 million contract reflecting his extensive NHL experience. Based on this list, I don’t see much reason for the Leafs to move far away from the $1.0 million figure, although given the amount of hype surrounding Gustavsson it wouldn’t surprise me if his actual contract ends up in the range predicted over at Pension Plan Puppets.

Comments (21)

  1. I have a hunch that the Leafs will drastically overpay for Gustavsson’s services when July rolls around. That’s just me though………

  2. I have been asking the question what is he really worth since December and I really think anything more then the 1.25 mill isnt worth and a 3 year deal that being said you could add bonuses like games played and wins stuff like that… BUT I really want to see if the leafs cant pick up another young goalie near the dead line, and bring up Reimer for the remainder of the year and give him 10 or so starts. I know everyone is afraid of the lottery pick going to Boston but I for one really dont care if they end up with Hall whoever I am still more mad at the Rask deal cause thats going to bite us in the @ss for long while….

  3. This is good shit…Willis, you are a good shit. This is all off topic, and I drank a lot of wine tonight (your AM), but your blog smacks of reason-ability and fact all at once. Good for you…and great for me.

    Thanks for all the good posts…that’s all the ass kissing for now, but it’s sincerely appreciated.

    As far as goalies go, rent-a-1B seems like the most logical move given the market. So, large contracts be damned…

  4. there is a lot of inconsistancies here… for starters jonas gustavsson just turned 25… that makes a little bit of a diffrence and comparing gustavson to some of these goalies doesn’t make a lot of sense like jonathon quick whos younger and has had how much time in the north american system where as jonas has come over seas plays for the second last team in the league that has the worst pk in a decade and what has he done posted a very respectable 2.97 GAA and a 901 save percentage and your telling me this kid deserves 1.75 mill for 1 yr? are you kidding? id be happy if they gave him three years at three million. comparing jonas to jonathon quick or alex auld just shows how mickey mouse this article is. Bottom line kid is 25 never played in north america has a good, albeit not outstanding, stat line works his ass off everyday and shows outstanding poise everytime hes on the ice. I feel like whoever wrote this hasnt watched a single leaf game and made a sub par observation on a goalie whos on track to be as outstanding as nicklas backstrom or henrik lundqvist.

  5. Wow Bruce. I take it you never watched a game featuring a young Henrik Lundqvist? In his rookie year he managed a .922 SV% at 23 years old. By the time Lundqvist was Gustavsson’s age, he’ played in almost 200 NHL games and never finished a season with a save percentage below .912. Not only that but he had extensive experience and better numbers in the SEL. Gustavsson could be a good goalie, but he’s not remotely comparable to Lundqvist at this point.

    Now, if you’ll look above I used the word “broad” when describing the list of comparables. These weren’t intended as identical matches to Gustavsson; rather, they were the most recently signed group of young goalies with at least one NHL season under their belt. As for your point about special teams, have you seen where Gustavsson ranks in even-strength save percentage? 52nd in the NHL. At this stage in his career, he’s putting in what amounts to a backup performance – which won’t prevent him from having a good career but the key point is that he isn’t there yet. He has a good SEL background and a middling first NHL season, so for the Leafs to just throw money at him would be a poor financial decision, and they should have another guy in the system not only as a mentor to Gustavsson but also to push him and to carry the load if he doesn’t develop as hoped.

    But hey, to each their own.

  6. ON track to be as good as Backstrom Or Lundqvist??? C’mon he has a chance to be good but thats a bit far reaching. He is a 25 year old rookie that has played professionally for years not a kid who went from junior to the ahl then the nhl. Lock him up, yes, but to suggest 3 mil a year in a salary cap world is irresponsible for a young player who has yet to prove himself and doesn’t hold the upper hand in negotiations.

  7. Oh, and Bruce, I have watched Toronto games this year, but what’s your excuse for the guys over at PPP? They’ve watched every Toronto game and we’re in the same ballpark.

  8. At age 25 is when most players reach there peak. Unless your a Crosby, Ovechkin, Brodeur or someone like that. Which means for Goalies like Quick and Elliot they’ve still got time to really get better. Obviously that’s why the Sens signed him to a 2 year deal so that next dear he can take the job from Leclaire and help them decide who goes and who stays playing with there young (but hopefully talented defense)

    Now as for Gustavsson, he’s been good but not great. Certainly not worth a big contract not for another 2-3 years. So if Burke was smart which at sometimes I think he is and sometimes don’t. He would sign Gustavsson between the 1-1.5 million dollar range. To prove he can start in this league. Just like Quick, Elliot and now Dubnyk are trying to prove they can. On a bit of side note anyone else been at least impressed with Dubnyk and a few other young Oilers are doing well.

  9. 3 year contract 3 mill a year tops hes worth the risk my comparison to lundqvist is that hes going to be the same style of tender big and hes going to steal games hes showing the lundqvist poise already and its his first year ! lundqvist only saw spot work his first year so his stats were inflated a bit gustavson gets shelled almost every night and he still keeps the number of goals at three or below he hasnt played one bad game this year showing his consistancy and hes only getting better so really if you think hes worth a 1.75 1 year deal shake your head and go prop yourself in front of a leaf game. every pp it looks like the warmup swarm of players trying to put it in and hes still keeps the puck out. Ha brian elliot or dubnyk one cant stop a beach ball one night then posts a shut out the other hasnt played enough games to evaluate. 3 MILLION 3 YEAR DEAL TOPS

  10. Holy rose coloured glasses Batman!!!

  11. Well Bruce would certainly be every players favourite GM. He over values people way to much and way to high. The Leafs already over payed for Toskala and look how well that turned out and at that point 3 years ago he was a highly touted goaltender to. Fact is you don’t pay 3 million for any goaltender for one year of good play. Yes he has a chance to be very good. I doubt he’ll ever be a good as Lundqvist. But when he can put up a .940 some save percentage then your claims won’t look so foolish.

  12. Bruce, I don’t want to be a dick but I’m not convinced you really know much at all about Lundqvist. In his first year you say he got “spot work”; that’s not true at all because he played 53 games, There’s nothing aside from wishful thinking and a shared nationality right now in comparing Gustavsson to Lundqvist.

    Gustavsson has the chance to be a very good goaltender. Right now he’s a backup calibre goalie, and he needs to show more before he gets big money. At least, that’s how I see it.

  13. look overpaying a player like fernado pisani or shawn horcoff is one thing paying 3 mill a year to jonas whos young played with a lot of poise and has shown his work ethic might end up being a bad contract but its 3 million on the other side it could be a huge bargain like the kaberle deal turned out to be. jonas has shown great goaltending in front of a team that is completly out of sync and yes he could be a bust but its a risk worth taking all im saying is that its crazy to think jonas is going to take a 1 year deal under 2 million. As for toskala so what hes over paid we can deal with it its not like toronto is paying scott gomez 7 million or wade redden 6 million. as for lundqvist and gustavsson its a great comparison they both have a similar goaltending style there big goalies that really take away space quickly and are just solid in net. Again you have to actually sit down and watch a maple leafs game to understand stats only say so much i feel like were evaluating gustavssons performance from a fantasy hockey perspective. if a team like philly had a a solid poised goaltender in jonas theyd be one of the top teams but they dont they have goalies that have decent save percentages but are not stable poised in net. so please sit down and watch a maple leafs game before you say hes worth 1.75 million and hes a back up because its very easy to tell from his performance each night

  14. Bruce: Again, what’s your explanation for the PPP guys? I know I haven’t watched every Leafs game this year, but I’ve seen enough to know that Gustavsson isn’t remotely comparable to Lundqvist at this point in time. You talk about poise, which he has, but you don’t talk about rebound control, which is a point of weakness; you talk about size, which he has, but you don’t talk about recovery time, which at this point isn’t very good. Side to side he’s okay but not wonderful. Lundqvist is stronger in all those areas, particularly the latter.

    I like the player. I do. But Lundqvist was a more polished product at a younger age, and at this point comparing the two is more fantasy than reality.

  15. not once did i say he was as good as lundqvist at this point in time i said hes on track to be that good in a few years hes showing all the elements to his game that lundqvist did when he broke into the league. yes lundqvist had much better stats but his team in front of him was much better and he actually had a pk in front of him when the other team sent out its pp unit. lundqvist was not always as dominate in the NHL as he is now he has always been good but he had a brutal playoff that year with new york because the flaws in his game started to stick out because he didnt have the experience but he continued to improve and now he gives that team a chance to win each night. i feel gustavsson is at the same point i dont disagree with you on the flaws you pointed out but thats expected of a first year goalie in north america. Age is irrelevant when you talk about goalies theyve both accomplished about the same lundqvist was more dominate at a younger age but jonas was able to be just as dominate when he left so my comparison is in playing style only and i stress again jonas took 900k this season which was a complete bargain but if you think you can go back and ask him to take another 1 year deal worth 1.75 your crazy hes gunna go let glen sather pay him 5 million. Is 3 years at 3 million and overpayment? it very well could be he could flop but if thats the case its worth it because if he continues to improve his goaltending skills could very well be as good as lundqvist and youve got him at three million where as lundqvists salary is 7 million so yes your taking a risk but there nothing jonas has done to seem like it wouldnt pay off.

    furthermore my critism of the article had more to do with the fact this whole thing is basing a players salary on stats and age which is a lundicrous way to evaluate a player. Even more dismial is the fact that when the article stated that jonas was 26 it threw out the assumption that this article was based on research because if any ligitimate web site or statistic was used it would become clear jonas just turned 25 but instead someone simply decided to minus his birth year from the current year without even researching the player and then it trys to determine what gustavssons worth is.

  16. Of note is that a .901 save percentage isn’t respectable because it’s no longer 1990. Gustavsson’s save percentage is abyssmal – this entire contract hinges on the Leafs valuation of Gustavsson’s potential to become an NHL goaltender.

    If this contract were solely based on Gustavsson’s current body of work with no expectation of significant improvement the offer would probably not be tendered.

  17. Bruce – Gustavsson will be 26 next season; we had to use his age from the start of next season to make it a fair comparison, since the goalies we’re looking at all got signed last season.

    Secondly, age is a damn important factor, and if you don’t realize that I don’t know what to say to you. Lots of players scored pretty close to Wayne Gretzky in the OHA; hell, Bobby smith outscored him but it didn’t matter because Gretzky was born in ’61 and Smith was born in ’58. That age difference was very relevant.

    Thirdly, you’re wrong about statistics. Very wrong. The human eye can’t tell the difference between a .901 and .905 goalie over the ocurse of a season (that’s 4 goals on 1000 shots) but the statistics sure can.

  18. Also, Bruce, Gustavsson’s what’s known as an RFA – meaning that any team paying him 5MM is going to surrender four first round draft picks. Even you can’t think that an NHL GM is stupid enough to toss out four first round picks for a goaltender who was a) never drafted and b) has a .900 save percentage.

    Finally, I’m not sure we’re working from the same definition of “on track;” to me, that means he’s replicating Lundqvist’s career path. He isn’t.

  19. again i said age is not an important factor when your considering GOALIES there a diffrent breed from players. again on track means hes replicating the same path lundqvist went through even though jonas is older. again my comparison is only between their skills set not their age or statistics. .901 on a team with the worst pk in over a decade is diffrent from a .905 on a team thats more solid defensivly most would argue the goalie at 901 is better. So statistics give you a basic knowledge of a player but you have to actually watch the player to get a good idea of how good they are or much money they deserve. The only time you can really rely on statistics alone is for fantasy sports if you based all your knowledge soly on someone statistics youve completly over throw the idea of scouting players why dont NHL teams just scrap there scouts bring out the spread sheet and draft players that way? because it doesnt make sense which is why im saying determining jonas salary next year on age and his stats doesnt make sense and if we do this hes gunna ask for a trade or worse he might take the one year deal and bolt as soon as he becomes an FA. Why would you base jonas salary next year on goalie stats this year? jonas has proven himself to be a great goaltender over the course of this year. Your telling me if we had signed a craig anderson or a brian elliot or even jonathon quick that they would all have the same stats as jonas on the leafs? probably not throw in the fact that every no goalie is ever going to post the same numer for two diffrent teams so trying to determine his salary based on stats alone doesnt make any sense.

  20. Bruce:

    1) Why wouldn’t age matter? You’ve said it doesn’t but given no reason to support the claim, which makes no sense to me (like anyone else, goalies get better as tehy mature, meaning that if two goalies have the same stats and one’s 22 and the other’s 25, the 22-year-old will probably have the better career).

    2) Nobody’s said we’re going entirely off stats (see my scouting report above) but at the end of the day it’s about keeping the puck out of the net – also known as save percentage. You keep bringing up the PK, but Gustavsson’s even-strength save percentage is 52nd in the NHL, so it isn’t special teams dragging him down.

  21. I think it’s been a so-so start for Jonas’s carrer. Having said that I think a deal in the 3 year range for around 1.5 to 2 mil would be fair. I think Jonas is still a little green when it comes to being a nhl starting goaltender. as I see him overplaying pucks to where it seem’s like he ‘s tring to stop every puck with his chest. However as the season continue’s I would except him to get into a grove where he finish’s the season right around a .900 save pct. with 3 shutouts. Then in the off season he will be able to add about 10 more pounds of muscle and Start watching tapes to understand the nhl and it’s shooter’s. So my perdiction for Jonas next year is 34W,17L and 4 ties with 6 shut outs. to go along with a .917 save pct.

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