The Maple Leafs are on the verge of locking up a mate for the Monster.
A source in Sweden said yesterday that Farjestads captain Rickard Wallin is close to signing with the team and joining the Monster -- goaltender Jonas Gustavsson -- who came on board on Tuesday.
“They are just working out the final details,” the Swedish source said. “(Wallin) has said he wants to go to Toronto and it is about to happen.”
The 29-year-old, who played briefly for the Minnesota Wild from 2002 to 2004, was Farjestads’ leading scorer each of the past two seasons and led the team to the Swedish Elite League title this past winter.
According to Gustavsson, his former captain is ready for a second kick at the NHL as he moves into the prime of his career.
“I have heard he is maybe going to come,” Gustavsson told Sun Media earlier this week. “He is a good centre man and a good locker room guy too. He is a good, mature player.”
Wallin is one year into a four-year contract with Farjestads, but has a clause that allows him an out to leave for the NHL until July 15.
Leafs general manager Brian Burke — who could not be reached for comment yesterday — acknowledged earlier this week that the team has negotiated with Wallin. After loading up on defencemen this free agency season, his next step is to add depth up front.
The idea of rejoining Gustavsson appeals to Wallin, who wants another shot at the league that spit him out five years ago.
“I would love to play with Jonas next year also,” Wallin told Swedish paper Sportbladet earlier this week. “I’m 29 years old so this is the last train going now. I would probably regret it if I did not take the chance.
“It would be a dream for me to go back to the NHL and show what I can do there.”
Originally a sixth-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 1998, Wallin had a slow start to his North American career. After being dealt to Minnesota, he scored six goals and four assists in 19 games over parts of two seasons.
He has found his stride in Sweden, however. Though he is primarily a two-way forward, Wallin lead Farjestads and was 10th in league scoring with 18 goals and 27 assists in 55 games. And if you’re worried he’s the second coming of former Leaf Inge Hammarstrom, Wallin did chip in with 56 penalty minutes in the 2008-09 campaign.
“He’s not close to the same player he was then,” the Swedish source said of Wallin’s first NHL stint. “He was probably too young back then.”