San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has signed goaltender Vesa Toskala to a two-year contract extension. Toskala was slated to become an unrestricted free agent following the conclusion of the 2005-06 season. Toskala is 8-0-2 in his last 10 starts and is expected to start Tuesday night against Detroit.
“The bottom line is we’re here to win hockey games,” said Wilson. “I’ll put our goaltending up against any team in the League. This gives us a lot of strength moving towards the end of the season where we have a lot of games to play.”
Wilson has now signed both Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov prior to them reaching unrestricted free agent status. The contracts provides the Sharks strong depth between the pipes for the rest of the season where they will play 26 games in 49 days. The signings also keep the Sharks from being forced to trade a netminder prior to the trade deadline just to avoid losing the asset with no return in the summer.
In his third season, Toskala has compiled a 24-16-7 career NHL record. He participated in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey for his native country of Finland.
“It’s really nice to have this done before the games start again so we can focus on winning games when we come back,” said Toskala. “I love this place and this organization. Especially the goalie coaching I get here. Everything is perfect here.”
This season, Toskala owns an 8-5-2 record with a 3.12 goals against average and .883 save percentage. He has not lost a game in regulation in his last 10 starts (8-0-2). In that time, he has posted a 2.45 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. For his three-win performance for the week ending February 12, Toskala was named as a runner-up for the NHL Defensive Player of the Week.
"I feel comfortable," said Toskala. "My self confidence is high up again. The more you play, the more comfortable you start getting. It's hard to play every once in awhile. It makes it easier when you play more and get into a rhythm."
During the 2003-04 season, his first full season in the NHL, he posted the fourth-best save percentage in the league (.930). He finished the campaign with a 12-8-4 record, a 2.06 goals against average and one shutout in 28 appearances.
The five-foot-ten, 195-pound goaltender from Tampere, Finland was originally selected in the fourth round (90th overall) in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.