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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Gustavsson won 11 games in 20 starts as Tuukka Rask’s backup in Boston last season, but his winning record was due in large part to the team’s high-powered offense. While he’s no stranger to defensive lapses in front of him, that doesn’t make the rangy netminder any better prepared to succeed when they inevitably start happening in Edmonton. Don’t expect a significant deviation from the 2.87 GAA that Cam Talbot’s new backup has accrued through seven NHL campaigns.
Gustavsson had about as stellar of a season as one can hope for from a backup, going 16-5-4 with a 2.63 goals against average. Jimmy Howard's struggles and injury issues gave him a lot of work, and Gustavsson took full advantage. Though he had a similar goals against average and save percentage to Howard, Gustavsson somehow had a far better record. The 2013-14 season was likely an anomaly for both Gustavsson and Howard, so don't expect another 16-win season from the backup.
Gustavsson played decently in his backup role in 2012-13, posting a 2-2 record with a 2.92 goals against average. He won't be expected to do much again in 2013-14, just giving Jimmy Howard a rest once in a while.
Gustavsson's three NHL seasons haven't lived up to the hype, as he's carried a career 2.98 GAA and .902 save percentage during his time in North America while battling for playing time in Toronto. On a one-year-deal with Detroit, the Monster is expected to provide an upgrade over Joey MacDonald and Ty Conklin while occasionally spelling Jimmy Howard. Considering that Howard will see something close to 65 starts, Gustavsson will be pressed to deliver value in most formats with just 15-20 opportunities in goal. Improvement is not out of the question, but we would like him more as a handcuff target if the Wings had fewer questions on their blue line following the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart.
The Monster enters this season as the Leafs’ number two man. Does that mean he doesn’t have the talent to be an NHL starter? Absolutely not. But he does need to revive his career and he essentially has one year to do it. Sure, the kid has faced more adversity in his first quarter-century than some face in a lifetime. But there's a lingering worry in the back of our mind that he just might not be compatible with Leafs goalie guru Francois Allaire. So while a resurrection may come, so too could a ticket out of town, particularly with Ben Scrivens champing at the bit down on the farm. Exercise caution.
Gustavsson should be the Buds' starter this season. He showed flashes of brilliance at points in 2009-10 but struggled with injuries, finishing 16-15 with one shutout, a 2.84 GAA and a .901 save percentage. He's big with a strong butterfly and has quieted his game under the tutelage of twine-tending guru Francois Allaire. Fifty starts are possible; so are 30 wins. But watch for fragility -- J.S. Giguere will also benefit from the presence of Allaire and will not go quietly into the night.
Last season, the Monster became the hottest thing since free downloads by standing on his head in the Swedish Elite League. In the regular season, he led the league with a 1.96 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. He then stepped it up in the playoffs with a mind-numbing 12-1 record, 1.03 goals-against average, .961 save percentage and 241 consecutive minutes of shutout hockey. He has the size and attitude to excel in the NHL and could earn the starting job by the All-Star break. He’ll always have to work at his technique. But remember – new goaltending coach Francois Allaire “made” J-S Giguere into a Conn Smythe winner. We like the Monster’s chances.