The Detroit Red Wings are sticking with Jonas Gustavsson as their backup man.
Indications are the Wings will soon re-sign Gustavsson, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency July 1.
"I've been talking to Gustavsson's agent,” general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press today. "He played good for us. We'd like to keep him."
During front-office meetings earlier this month, management and team scouts debated options for the no. 2 goaltending position. One was to retain Gustavsson. Another was to add someone else via the UFA market. A third option was to consider giving the job to Petr Mrazek, the hot young prospect who has been turning heads in Grand Rapids for two years.
Ultimately, the decision favored Gustavsson. He went 16-5-4 last season with a .907 save percentage and 2.63 goals-against average, appearing in 27 games. He was considered the team's savior during the first half, especially so after a November that saw no. 1 man Jimmy Howard stumble and fumble. Gustavsson's dependable service was exactly what the Wings needed to see from him after he turned in so disastrous a debut during the lockout-shortened 2013 season that he never played after March of that year.
This year, Gustavsson ended up playing in the last two games of the Wings' season, subbing in for Howard in Game 4 of the first-round series against Boston after Howard came down with flu. Gustavsson stayed in for Game 5, going 0-2 with a .917 save percentage and 2.71 goals-against average in what was his first NHL playoff experience.
"He played well for us this season and we have interest in him coming back," Holland said.
Negotiations center on term - Gustavsson's camp wants two years, while the Wings would prefer a one-year extension. Gustavsson, 29, is coming off a two-year, $3 million contract.
The biggest reservation about keeping Gustavsson was his health - he has been especially vulnerable to groin injuries, shelving him for stretches of both seasons he's been with the Wings. That said, there is no backup goalie headed for the open market who'd be an upgrade. As for Mrazek, he is only 22, and, he's only just finished his second season with the Griffins. From the Wings' point of view, he'd be better off being the go-to guy in Grand Rapids than an every-other-week player in Detroit.
Gustavsson's past year includes being part of the Swedish Olympic men's team that took silver in Sochi.
Edited by Hockeytown0001, 17 June 2014 - 01:23 PM.