In the world of hockey cards, everything is hype driven. Some hype is justified, just look at Ovechkin and Crosby. Then there is some hype that is not (hello Jack Skille and Jack Johnson). This year there is yet another incredible crop of rookies. You have John Tavares who scored a goal in his first game and Victor Hedman who is already has an assist and is going to be a big time minute guy for the Lightening. The biggest hype this off season came from Sweeden in the form of Jonas Gustavsson, otherwise known as “The Monster”
I have to say I was intrigued about this guy who had slipped through the NHL cracks, going undrafted, only to declare recently that he wanted to play in the NHL. Upon hearing this many NHL teams decended on Sweeden like locust trying to land the big Swede. It was reported that he had narrowed his choice to three teams. San Jose, Toronto, and Dallas were considered the front runner. Early July he signed with the Maple Leafs and since then he has been sharing goaltending duties with Vesa Toskala.
He made his debut against the Washington Capitals on 10/3 after Toskala was pulled for letting up 3 goals in one period. Unfortunately The Monster didn’t fare much better. He also let up 3 goals, to an extremely fired up Caps team that had the crowd going nuts. It’s no secret that Leafs fans can’t stand Toskala and are chomping at the bit to hand the reigns over to The Monster, but it’s improtant to realize that although he put up amazing numbers in the Swedish Elite league, the level of competition is similar to the AHL. He needs some seasoning, but after watching this video of his best saves, I am a believer that he can be a star in the NHL.
Currently there are only a few Swedish Hockey League cards of him on eBay, below is an example of a insert card in the set. They run anywhere from $3 – $50 on eBay. Look for him in nearly every major release from UD this season. Along with Tavares, he might be the rookie card to have from these sets.