#35 Vesa Toskala
Name: Vesa Toskala
Number: #35
Position: Goaltender
Date of Birth: May 20, 1977
Birthplace: Tampere,
Drafted: 90th overall
San Jose Sharks
Height: 5'10'
Weight: 195lbs
Hand: Right (Catches Left)

Career Statistics - Gallery of Images - Main Discussion

Vesa Tapani Toskala is a professional hockey player playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League.


Toskala was selected in the fourth round, 90th overall, by the San Jose Sharks in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. The Sharks also selected fellow Finnish-born goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff in the fifth round. Toskala gained the attention of professional scouts with his stellar play in the 1998-1999 season with Ilves of the SM-liiga, where he went 21-12-0 with a 2.14 goals against average and a 0.916 save percentage. Toskala also posted five shutouts that season. The next season, playing a style that was modeled after Markus Korhonen, Toskala played with Färjestads BK of the Swedish Elitserien and posted an impressive 2.59 goals against average. In one game with Färjestad, Toskala even managed to scored a goal. At this point, Toskala was not sure if he wanted to have a career in hockey. Wanting a more stable job, he was going to quit hockey altogether to go to school full-time, before San Jose enticed him to North America.

San Jose Sharks (2001-2007)Edit

In his first season in North America in 2000-2001, Toskala played with the Kentucky Thoroughblades of the American Hockey League. Splitting time with second-year player Kiprusoff, Toskala played 44 games, going 22-13-5 with a 2.77 goals against average and a 0.911 save percentage. Toskala proved that he was quickly adapting to the North American game, and played three games for Kentucky in the playoffs. The next year, after the team's move to Cleveland, he took over the starting role after Kiprusoff was recalled to San Jose. in 62 games with Cleveland, Toskala went 19-33-7 with a 2.99 GAA and a 0.912 save percentage. That season he led the league in games played and saves made. When Kiprusoff fell to injury, Toskala was called up to back-up Evgeni Nabokov. Toskala received ten minutes of playing time in his first exposure to the NHL, where he stopped the two shots he faced.

In the 2002-03 NHL season, Nabokov and San Jose could not settle on a contract, and Toskala served as Kiprusoff's backup. When Kiprusoff faltered, Toskala stepped in and played admirably, going 4-3-1 with a 2.35 GAA and a 0.927 save percentage. He earned his first shutout in a 25-save-effort against the Detroit Red Wings. When Nabokov was re-signed, Toskala was sent back to Cleveland, where he struggled, going 15-30-2, with a 3.21 GAA and a 0.903 save percentage. Nonetheless, the Sharks' management remembered Toskala's stellar play in the NHL, and at the end of the season, they recalled Toskala, meaning the Sharks now had three goaltenders on their roster. Since Nabokov was the established starter, Kiprusoff and Toskala fought for the backup position, and Toskala won the battle, as Kiprusoff was traded to the Calgary Flames. When Kiprusoff enjoyed tremendous success in Calgary, leading them to the Stanley Cup finals, many believed that since San Jose had picked Toskala over Kiprusoff, Toskala could be even better. That season, playing in 28 games, Toskala went 12-8-4 with a 2.06 GAA and a 0.930 save percentage. He did not play in the playoffs.

The 2005-06 season proved to be a career year for Toskala. He began the year as the backup to Nabokov, where he posted a record of 17-2-2, leading to a Stanley Cup playoff berth for the Sharks. Toskala's goals-against-average fell from 3.25 to 2.55, while his save percentage increased from 0.872 to .900. This earned him the nickname "The Finnish Horse" from Shark's broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky. Toskala's play earned him several accolades and relegated Nabokov to the role of backup goaltender. On February 27, the Sharks resigned Toskala to a two-year contract extension worth $2.75 million. Toskala finished the playoffs for the Sharks with a 2.45 goals-against-average and a 0.910 save percentage.

Since both Toskala and Nabokov were now seen as number one goalies, the Sharks attempted to trade one or the other before the season began. No trade occurred, and Ron Wilson opted to alternate starts between Toskala and Nabokov. Through 71 games, Toskala played in 35 games, starting 31 and posting a 2.45 GAA, along with 3 shutouts. Nabokov got the nod as starter after that, and played in San Jose's remaining regular season and playoff games.

Toskala holds the San Jose Club record as the only goalie to record a multiple point game as he tallied two assists against the Chicago Blackhawks on February 3, 2007.

Toronto Maple Leafs (2007-)Edit

On June 22, the first day of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft weekend in Columbus, Ohio, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson traded Toskala, along with forward Mark Bell, to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the club's 2007 1st and 2nd round draft picks, as well as Toronto's 4th round pick in 2009.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Toskala to a four year contract with the team worth $4 million a season in July 2007. He and Andrew Raycroft shared starts until late November, when Toskala's GAA and save percentage improved dramatically. He recorded two shutouts in December, and the NHL named him best goaltender of the month. Toskala is now the Maple Leafs' starting goaltender, and is backed up by veteran and past Maple Leaf starting goaltender Curtis Joseph.

In the 2009 NHL regular season opener on October 9, 2008, the official scoresheet between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings listed Toskala as the Maple Leafs captain. Coach Ron Wilson stated that the scoresheet was a mistake, but Toskala was officially the captain. In an interesting twist, he beat Roberto Luongo, who has since been named captain of the Wikipedia:Vancouver Canucks, to the record of becoming the first goaltender-captain in 60 years.

Career StatisticsEdit

Regular Season Stats
2001-2002 1 9 0 0 0 - 0 2 0 0.00 1.000
2002-2003 11 536 4 3 1 - 21 287 1 2.35 .927
2003-2004 28 1540 12 8 4 - 53 760 1 2.06 .930
2004-2005 - - - - - - - - - - -
2005-2006 37 2039 23 7 - 4 87 878 2 2.56 .901
2006-2007 38 2141 26 10 - 1 84 915 4 2.35 .908
2007-2008 66 3837 33 25 - 6 175 1824 3 2.74 .904
2008-2009 See 2008-2009 Statistics for current season totals
TOTAL 181 10106 98 53 5 11 420 4666 11 2.49 .910
*Did not play due to labor strike

Playoff Stats
2000-2001 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - -
2005-2006 11 686 6 5 28 311 1 2.45 .910
TOTAL 11 686 6 5 28 311 1 2.45 .910

2008-2009 Toronto Maple Leafs Roster
Forwards Nik Antropov Jason Blake Mikhail Grabovski Niklas Hagman Ryan Hollweg
Nikolai Kulemin Brad May Jamal Mayers John Mitchell Dominic Moore
Alexei Ponikarovsky Matt Stajan Lee Stempniak Jeremy Williams
Defencemen Jeff Finger Jonas Frogren Tomas Kaberle Pavel Kubina Luke Schenn
Anton Stralman Mike Van Ryn Ian White
Goaltenders Curtis Joseph Vesa Toskala
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