Jets cut Monster deal with Leafs

The Maple Leafs have traded goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to the Jets for a conditional draft pick....

The Maple Leafs have traded goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to the Jets for a conditional draft pick. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency file photo)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:20 PM ET

WINNIPEG - As of this instant, it’s tough to really determine whether the Winnipeg Jets are any closer to solving their potential predicament in goal.

With one week before the annual free agency bonanza opens on July 1, the Jets still don’t have an NHL-ready goalie under contract for the upcoming season.

However, the Jets did make an interesting move on Day 2 of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, acquiring the rights to goalie Jonas (The Monster) Gustavsson for a conditional seventh round pick in 2013.

That’s a small price to pay for the right to try and lock up a guy who came into the NHL with great fanfare and a catchy nickname.

However, all it means is the Jets have the chance to speak with Gustavsson prior to July 1, when he is set to become an unrestricted free agent. If he doesn’t sign with the Jets, the won’t have to surrender the pick.

In case you’re keeping score at home, that leaves the Jets with two pending unrestricted free agent goalies (veteran backup Chris Mason is the other) and a restricted free agent in Ondrej Pavelec who was the team’s most valuable player last season.

When he met with the media on Saturday, Cheveldayoff wasn’t exactly forthcoming with his strategy regarding the trio — after all, you can’t expect him to tip his hand and impact his bargaining position — he made it abundantly clear he viewed the negotiations with Pavelec as an entirely separate issue.

“Really the two are not together. Obviously we’re going to sign two guys and get that done. But the Pavelec situation is totally separate than this,” said Cheveldayoff. “Negotiations with Pavelec are ongoing and we feel confident things will move forward. There’s no question that our priority is to get Pavelec signed.”

Cheveldayoff did sound like someone who believes Gustavsson has yet to reach his full potential, which may explain the interest in him.

“That’s something internally we’ve talked about,” said Cheveldayoff. “He’s obviously a big goaltender who is very athletic. He’s only had several years over here and he’s an intriguing (guy) to talk to.

“We’ll see. It doesn’t mean we’re going to get him signed.”

Cheveldayoff also said this move wasn’t an indication that the Jets were giving up on signing Mason, who played well, has a good relationship with Pavelec and was a key member of the leadership group.

If nothing else, the option to investigate Gustavsson is a smart fallback plan should Mason choose to sign elsewhere.

“Winnipeg approached us and said they saw him as a back-up goalie and would we give them an opportunity to jump the queue (on free agency),” Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke told reporters. “He saved our butts last season at times, played some really good hockey for us. But I think it’s time for us as an organization to move on, it’s time for him to move on.”

Gustavsson will be moving on all right, we’re just not sure if it will be with the Jets or another franchise, either in the NHL or elsewhere.

So until the Jets get two of these guys — or perhaps ink one of the other backups like Scott Clemmensen that’s coming onto the market July 1 — the intrigue revolving around the most position in hockey is going to continue.

Getting Pavelec’s name on a contract is imperative and the two sides are said to be getting closer on the dollars.

Then the Jets can get to work on a new deal for budding sniper Evander Kane.


Videos

Photos