Maple Leafs President and General Manager, Brian Burke, announced the signing of goaltender Ben Scrivens Wednesday morning. Though this may not be much of a surprise to Leafs Nation, it appears to further solidify Burke’s dedication to the current roster.
Scrivens has had an impressive career with the Marlies down the street, as well as flashes of brilliance with the Leafs. He finished the AHL season with a 22-15-1 record, four shutouts, a .926 save percentage, and a league leading 2.04 goals against average. Those are quite impressive statistics and may be the reason why this contract was expected at some point. He also finished his 12 game NHL season with a .902 save percentage.
Does this mean the Leafs are effectively finished searching for an upgrade in net? Not necessarily. First of all, it’s conceivable that Burke was never out to seek an “upgrade” more than he was experience. The Luongo talks never seemed to make sense in Toronto, as he is 33 years of age with ten years left on his contract. Any goaltender in the middle or latter stages of their prime would only take away peak opportunities for both Reimer and Scrivens.
Contrary to what many may think, Scrivens is 26 years old, two years the elder of presumptive starter, James Reimer. Scrivens has likely proven enough to get a legitimate opportunity to start at the NHL, and if it’s going to happen as a Leaf, time is of the essence. Most goaltenders at his age begin to peak their prime at the NHL level.
Signing Scrivens effectively adds legitimate competition to the goaltending situation. No, it may not have proven effective last season, but a fresh start means everything. Reimer is completely healed from injury and should be more mentally prepared than he was last season. Scrivens is coming off a career high and his confidence will be soaring with the opportunity, whereas Jonas Gustavsson was coming off a season of scrutiny. Both Reimer and Scrivens have proven they are capable of playing at a high level in NHL, so whenever the season starts, the Leafs might already have the upgrade in net they’ve been looking for.