The Finnish version of Jonas Gustavsson, Jussi Rynnäs, is apparently down to a short-list of teams. Unfortunately, that list does not include the Toronto Maple Leafs. A Finnish news report was found by JaredFromLondon and translated by our very own sleza:
Ässä (name of the crappy team - sleza) goalie Jussi Rynnäs has ended his North American tour. The Pori resident who has attracted great interest among NHL teams was exploring 5 different organisation. During his eight day trip Rynnäs visited Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Minnesota Wild and Montreal Canadiens.
- Now I can say that I will leave Ässät. It will be nice to see what I can do. Deciding the team is so big and important decision in my life that it has to be thought through, Rynnäs says.
Rynnäs is likely to make his decision during next few weeks. Ässät will receive a transfer fee from the NHL of $150-200K USD ($111-148K Euros). The final amount depends on how many players from SM-league (Finnish Elite League) will move to North America for next season
Rynnäs won the Finnish Elite League's trophy for the best save percentage after a largely unimpressive career. A big part of Toronto's ability to attract Jonas Gustavsson last year, aside from the history and importance of the team, was that he would have an opportunity to establish himself as the team's future in net. This year with the acquisition of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and the re-signing of Gustavsson that opportunity is not as clearly felt. Just off of the top of my head each of those five teams offer a better opportunity for next season although it's not clear which one will be the best long-term fit.
This makes two European free agents that the Leafs have or will miss out on this summer including the Norweigan Hobbit.
Update: I've updated the post because new commenter made a good point about the fact that the article doesn't say that he has narrowed his choice to those five cities just that those are the ones he visited. Lance Hornby actually had a story two days ago about the pursuit that paints an interesting picture:
Brian Burke and right-hand man David Nonis made a secret trip to Helsinki a few days ago with the purpose of landing 6-foot-5, 22-year-old Jusii Rynnas. They are awaiting a decision from Rynnas, who is trying to decide which team will give him the best chance to break into the NHL.
Burke’s visit wasn’t enough to convince Rynnas to become a Leaf on the spot, but when he came to North America a few days later, for scheduled NHL window shopping in Edmonton, Dallas, Anaheim, Philadelphia and Montreal, Burke got wind of the trip. He caught up with Rynnas and his agent in Montreal, this time bringing along the Leafs’ netminding guru, Francois Allaire to make a further impression.
Allaire is a benefit to the sales pitch but it cannot be a good sign that the Finn did not make a trip to Toronto and did not inform Burke of his visit to North America. However, it seems that not all hope is lost.