Leafs track The Monster

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke isn't about to be scared off because The Monster has been less than ferocious at the world hockey championship thus far.

Free-agent goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, whom the Leafs are hoping to sign after the tournament, has seen action in two games for Sweden at the worlds, posting a goals-against average of 4.90 and a save percentage of .873.

However, in his first game, a 6-5 victory over Team USA on Wednesday, Gustavsson turned aside 39 shots.

The 24-year-old then came in yesterday for an injured Johan Holmqvist in a 6-5 overtime loss to Russia and was beaten three times on 19 shots.

The Leafs are said to be the frontrunners in signing the 6-foot-3 goaltender, who led Farjestad to the Swedish Elite title this season and posted a sparkling 1.96 GAA and .932 save percentage in 42 games.

"He played well, despite allowing the five goals," said Burke, who is attending the worlds in Bern, Switzerland.

Burke plans to meet with Gustavsson -- who is known as The Monster -- once the tourney ends a week from Sunday.

His potential signing likely would mean that the organization's so-called goalie of the future, Justin Pogge, who ended the recent AHL playoff series against Manitoba on the bench in favour of backup Adam Munro, may be on his way out.

BACKUP NEXT YEAR?

The theory is, if the Leafs sign Gustavsson, he will back up Vesa Toskala next season.

Several Leafs are taking part in the worlds, including forwards Mikhail Grabovski (Belarus) and Niklas Hagman (Finland) who are both playing well, having posted five points. Grabovski has three goals and two assists in four games while Hagman has a goal and four assists in three games.


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