|Aiming for average: Jonas Gustavsson’s track record makes Bruins’ signing questionable||10.06.15 at 11:41 pm ET|
For starters (OK, backups), the Bruins seemingly already had their No. 2 goalie for the season in Jeremy Smith. That obviously changed when the B’s gave Gustavsson the keys and Smith a ticket to Iowa.
Equally as notable, however, is that Gustavsson being the backup isn’t a particularly safe play. The former Maple Leaf and Red Wing couldn’t stay healthy last season, but that isn’t the extent of his concerns. His .901 career save percentage wasn’t skewed by a bad season or two: In each of his six seasons in the NHL, he has been below the league average in save percentage. It would be optimistic to assume that will change playing behind what could be a rocky defense this season.
Meanwhile, the Bruins backups always were above the league average over the last six seasons, including the discarded Niklas Svedberg last season.
There was no sure thing in the Bruins’ backup goaltending battle. The choice was to either go with the inexperienced Smith (zero NHL games but a .933 save percentage in 39 AHL games last season) or put faith in Gustavsson’s experience despite that it hasn’t been particularly good experience.
“It wasn’t just because of experience,” Claude Julien said. “We looked at different things. At the end of the day we took that direction, and I’m saying this again: We had to make a decision and it could have gone either way, but we made that one based on how we felt. Maybe it’s a slight, slight edge but even we can be wrong and maybe you do get to see Smitty back here again. We’re not saying that this is it [and] this is what we’re going with for the whole season. We’re keeping our options open there as well.”
|Bruins sign Jonas Gustavsson to 1-year deal||10.04.15 at 5:43 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday that they have signed goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year, one-way deal worth $700,000.
The signing comes as something of a surprise, as 26-year-old Jeremy Smith entered camp as the projected backup for Tuukka Rask. Smith, a former Predators second-round pick who split time with Malcolm Subban in Providence last season, was signed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level this summer. He would have to clear waivers to be sent to Providence, where Subban and Zane McIntyre are already assigned.
Gustavsson played in two games for the Bruins this preseason, stopping 42 of 45 shots he faced for a .933 save percentage. Injuries (most notably a separated shoulder0 limited the 30-year-old to seven NHL games last season, his third season with the Red Wings after playing the first three seasons of his NHL career with the Maple Leafs.
With his status uncertain late last week, Gustavsson said that he believed that even if he didn’t get a contract with Boston, he felt that he’d answered any questions in his mind as to whether he could bounce back from an injury-plagued season.
“Last year was different,” he said last week. “I had a big injury, so I missed a lot of time there and didn’t play that many games, but the last three months I was on the ice and I worked hard and practiced. I felt like my game was back to where it was before the injury.”
Teams have until 5 p.m. to set their 23-man rosters.
|Jonas Gustavsson enters wait-and-see mode with Bruins||10.02.15 at 1:23 pm ET|
Now, the waiting game begins for Jonas Gustavsson.
After going through training camp and playing one and a half preseason games for the Bruins on a professional tryout, the 30-year-old netminder can do nothing but hope that the work he put in was good enough to earn him a contract and a spot on the bench as Tuukka Rask‘s backup.
Claude Julien said Friday morning that Gustavsson would not travel with the team for Friday’s preseason finale against the Capitals, with Rask starting and Jeremy Smith serving as backup. That means the preseason book is closed on Gustavsson, who stopped 42 of 45 shots over parts of two preseason games for a .933 save percentage.
“I’m not trying to think about it too much; I’m trying to do whatever I usually do – just practice, play games whenever I get a chance to play and have some fun,” Gustavsson said after Friday’s practice. “All the other stuff, that’s not in my hands. I guess I’m waiting, but on the other hand, at the same time, I’m just taking it day-by-day like I always do.”
Smith, a 26-year-old who was drafted in the second round by the Predators in 2007, is the favorite to win the backup job after a strong showing last season in Providence. That leaves Gustavsson, who played formerly with the Leafs and Red Wings but was limited to seven games with the Wings by injuries last season, potentially on the outside looking in.
Julien insisted Friday morning that a decision has not been made on the backup goaltender.
“There’s a lot that’s going to come into play there in that decision-making. It’s going to be a group decision,” he said. “We’re going to look at the pros and cons and everything else that goes into it. Unfortunately, that’s where it would be nice to have more preseason games and give a lot of those guys an opportunity to play even more and us assess them even longer, but that’s the way it is. Tuukka’s got to play. He’s our goaltender that we’ve got to get ready for the start of the season.”
Gustavsson’s preseason availability was limited by the birth of his first child, which cost him a preseason start that was perhaps made up when he played all of Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. Malcolm Subban (who started two preseason games) and Zane McIntyre are already back in Providence having been cut from camp.
Julien has noted that the decision the team makes for Rask’s backup will not necessarily be the team’s final decision. If the team loses confidence in the backup, as the Bruins did with Niklas Svedberg last season, they won’t hesitate to call up Subban and give him his shot. Should Smith get the first crack at the gig, such a scenario would do Gustavsson no good unless he remains unsigned.
Gustavsson saw his injuries create that situation last season in Detroit. As he battled a shoulder injury, AHL callup Petr Mrazek emerged as a starting option for the Red Wings, which made his services no longer required. If Gustavsson does happen to win a job in Boston, he intends to keep it.
“Every time you’re on the ice, you’re trying to prove yourself,” he said. “That’s what you’ve got to do, no matter if you have a contract or not. There’s always going to be competition. You can’t really take any spots for granted, no matter if you’re on a one-way or two-way or tryout or whatever it is. If you’re not going to perform over time, some younger kid or some other goalie’s going to take your spot. There’s only 60 spots in the league and there’s tons of good goalies.”
Gustavsson still considers himself one of them. He’ll have to wait to see if the Bruins agree.
The Bruins will play their preseason finale Friday when they face the Capitals at the Verizon Center, but they’ll be leaving a pair of players behind.
Forward Max Talbot and backup goalie candidate Jonas Gustavsson will hang back for Friday night’s game, with Claude Julien saying that neither move is an indication of either player’s status with the team. Tuukka Rask will get the start, with Jeremy Smith backing him up.
The lines in Friday’s practice were as follows:
All seven of the Bruins’ healthy defensemen — Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, Matt Irwin, Colin Miller and Kevan Miller — are expected to make the trip. Zdeno Chara did not practice with the B’s Friday, though he did skate again prior to the practice.
|Don Sweeney: Jonas Gustavsson is Bruins’ only PTO for now||09.10.15 at 3:26 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson is the only player coming to Bruins camp on a professional tryout, for now.
“As of today, yeah,” Sweeney said when asked if Gustavsson was the only veteran invited to next week’s training camp. “It may change. I’ve talked to different players and representatives over the last couple of weeks. We have a healthy number of guys coming in, so that dictates it just a little bit. There could be injuries and such or there could be non-graduation, as we call it, from rookie camp to main camp that may affect that. I’ve been in touch with several players.”
Gustavsson gives the camp a veteran goaltender with NHL experience as the Bruins determine who will back up Tuukka Rask this season. Options under contract consist of Jeremy Smith and Malcolm Subban, both of whom played in Providence last season, as well as 2015 Hobey Baker finalist Zane McIntyre. Subban is the only one of the aforementioned three goaltenders to play in an NHL game, but he was pulled from his only contest after allowing three goals on six shots.
Still, Gustavsson is hardly a sure-fire upgrade from Boston’s inexperienced goalies. Gustavsson has the NHL work under his belt, but it isn’t overly impressive. He had a .911 save percentage in seven games for Detroit last season and a .907 mark in 27 games the season before that.
Other players that remain unsigned include forwards Erik Cole and Lee Stempniak, while blueliner Marek Zidlicky is the biggest name remaining on defense following the signings of Cody Franson (Sabres) and David Schlemko (Devils).
Last season, the Bruins had Simon Gagne and Ville Leino in camp on a tryout basis. Leino was released from camp, while Gagne signed a one-year deal with the B’s before leaving the team due to his father’s death.
|Jonas Gustavsson to start for Red Wings in Game 5||04.25.14 at 7:30 pm ET|
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told reporters Friday that Jonas Gustavsson will start Saturday in Game 5 against the Bruins, with Jimmy Howard serving as the backup.
Gustavsson made his playoff career playoff start in Thursday’s Game 4 because Howard, the team’s regular starter, was out with the flu. Howard did not practice Friday.
The 29-year-old Gustavsson saw 40 shots Thursday, stopping 37 of them in taking the loss in a 3-2 overtime win for Boston that gave the B’s a 3-1 lead in the series.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Morning skate notes: James Reimer starting for Leafs||12.03.11 at 11:42 am ET|
The Bruins got back on the ice Saturday morning in anticipation for the second game of a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs. Boston currently leads Toronto by one point in the Northeast division after Wednesday’s 6-3 victory at Air Canada Centre.
All of the regulars were on the ice for the Bruins Saturday morning, with the exception of defenseman Steven Kampfer and forward Jordan Caron. Both players were sent to Providence Wednesday so they could get some game action, and both players played in Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Connecticut Whale. Caron had an assist, while Kampfer went without a point and had an even rating.
One are that remains a bit of a question mark for Saturday is the Leafs’ goaltending situation. Jonas Gustavsson is slated to be the starter, but No. 1 netminder James Reimer has been cleared to play.
[UPDATE: 12:32 pm] Both Reimer and coach Ron Wilson told reporters that it will indeed be Reimer in net. The Leafs have not lost a game in regulation this season with Reimer in net (4-0-1).