According to the Swedish news outlet Aftonbladet, the Maple Leafs are looking to add once again to their very deep pool of goaltending prospects. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the San Jose Sharks are reportedly the two front runners for the services of Mark Owuya, a young standout netminder out of the Swedish Eliteserien. Playing as a 21 year old rookie, Owuya stole the starting job for the Djugarden hockey club and went on to post a 2.18 GAA and .927 SV%, good for third and first overall respectively among qualifying goaltenders this past season. For comparison’s sake, Jonas Gustavsson recorded a 1.97 GAA and .932 SV% during his last year in the Eliteserien, albeit at 24 years of age.
Now in terms of playing style, this is where most comparisons can be thrown out the door. Standing at 6’2, Owuya possesses adequate size for a goaltender but does not play a true stand-up or butterfly style. The technical skills in terms of smooth transitions and sound positioning aren’t quite as sharp as they should be, nor does he boast the kind of elite athleticism or quickness that would supposedly be able to compensate.
Drawing some parallels to Boston’s Tim Thomas, he has been described as a bit of a flopper with good lateral movement who can effectively shut down the bottom half of the net. However, he is prone to over-committing and being susceptible up high. What Owuya does have going for him is tremendous work ethic, desire and confidence on the ice. His mental game is excellent as he rarely gets rattled and has the ability to battle through games in order to give his team a chance to win every night. It may not always be pretty, but Owuya consistently seems to find a way to throw his body in front of the puck. And it sure is hard to argue with those kinds of numbers.
Discussions appear to still be in their preliminary stages at this point as Owuya hears pitches from various NHL teams, but expect Burke to once again play the invaluable Francois Allaire card if it should come to that. With Reimer/Gustavsson at the NHL and Scrivens/Rynnas in the AHL, it will be interesting to see where the organization would find playing time for Owuya. However, being 4th and 5th on the depth chart didn’t seem to deter the young free agent goaltenders last offseason.
Oh… and Owuya also likes to pursue the musical opportunity from time to time. Quite the character this guy: