This week the Journey drills deep on Oilers' goalie Ben Scrivens...
Ben Scrivens - G
27 years old
Undrafted – Signed as a free agent by the Toronto Maple Leafs April 28, 2010
Currently entering the first year of a two year contract with the Edmonton Oilers
When I think of Ben Scrivens or as some call him, “the Professor” I think of an intelligent goaltender inside and outside the game. He is one of the nice guy’s and a close friend of nice guy and former teammate, James Reimer (and probably his mom). A guy with tons of heart and a strong will to win. He strikes me as someone who is his own worst critic and tries to learn something every day. A professional’s professional. However, I’m not sure at any time I would say All-Star, Elite or (in fantasy) a MUST own. Good, good, good and more good, but no ‘great’.
Let’s dig deeper…
A graduate of Cornell University, Scrivens finished his collegiate career with a solid .927 save percentage. In his final NCAA season (34 games) he had the most shutouts in the league (7), lowest goals against average (1.87 GAA) and highest save percentage (.934 SV%). He also recorded the third longest shutout streak in NCAA history when he went into the middle frame of the fifth straight game before a puck got past him. In that final year he was a First Team All-American, the ECAC Top Goaltender and a Hobey Baker finalist.
I guess this is a good time to point out that the now 24-year-old college standout was undrafted. Granted, Scrivens didn’t really hit his stride until he was preparing to enter the NCAA at the ripe old age of 20. Nevertheless, Toronto signed the youngster to a one year two-way deal for the 2010-11 season.
He was a pretty solid option with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies playing a total of 94 games (49 wins) for the baby Leafs who had a good run at a Calder Cup during the Scrivens regime. He turned in .924, .926 and .917 SV% in his three years as a Marlie. In his second year with the organization, Scrivens started showing the reasons why the Leafs brought him in. He posted a 2.04 GAA to go along with a .926 SV% both were franchise records. He took over second on the Marlies’ all-time regular season wins list, set franchise records for playoff goals against average and save percentage. He moved into a first place tie on the list for Marlies all-time playoff appearances by a goaltender. He also won the Hap Holmes Award for the goaltender with the fewest regular season goals against (at least 25 games played) and was named the Reebok/AHL Goaltender of the Month for March of that year. Scrivy then went on to ALMOST lead the Marlies to a Calder Cup posting a 1.92 GAA and a .935 SV% in the AHL playoffs. The team would fall victim to a bad bounce off a window stanchion in overtime of a 0-0 game three and never recover.
During his successes as a Marlie, Scrivens did mix in a few Leafs highlights as well. Although he wasn’t the front man, Scrivens continued to put up solid numbers and show improvement every step of the way. As a Leaf he had a .903 SV% in 12 appearances in 2011-12 one of which was his first NHL win in his first NHL start. The following season he got into 20 games as a big leaguer and improved his goals against average to 2.69 from 3.13 and also brought his save percentage up to .915. The Kings saw that as a pretty good audition and Scrivens found himself as a piece of the package sent to California for now Leafs starter, Jonathan Bernier.
The young net-minder shone in Kings’ black posting a 1.97 GAA and .931 SV% in 19 games as backup to Jonathan Quick. That got him enough credit to be re-united with former Marlies coach Dallas Eakins in Edmonton where Scrivens has definitely bordered on elite at times. Remember the 59 save effort against the San Jose Sharks that awarded him his first Oilers shutout and the NHL record for most saves in a regular season shutout in the expansion era.
Ben by the Numbers
The 27-year-old Scrivens has just extended with the Oilers for two years at $2.3m per year. His counterpart, 32-year-old Viktor Fasth has one year left on his deal that will pay him $2.9m AAV. There has been a rumbling that the Oilers will seek a more stable option than Scrivens and whether that is Fasth or another veteran goaltender remains to be seen. Fasth didn’t have terrible numbers as an Oiler but I don’t see them as enough to take the number one job away from Scrivens. If the Oilers really want to look for another option they are missing the boat on a great “elite” option right under their noses.
No question, if he isn’t already, Scrivens is going to be the number one goaltender in Edmonton. If he is given the chance to continue to start as the team continues to grow he will continue to improve on numbers that are already respectable. History shows he succeeds through progression. This will be his first full season as a starting goaltender. To this point the most games he has played in an NHL season is 40 and that is the most he has played in a season at ANY level. Let’s see him play a heavier 55-60 games and see where the chips fall. When his playing time and responsibility increased at lower levels he responded with an increased level of performance. If the same is said about NHL Scrivens, the Oilers need to look no further.
Stash Fantasy Scrivens
As a fantasy owner a good goaltender can carry you a long way. Most leagues now will run two starting goaltenders per team and depending on how big your league is that could leave some guys on the outside when it comes to front line options.
Scrivens would be a nice add to any team. His wins may be a little down (9 in 20 starts last yr in EDM) while the team improves in front of him but indications are that the Oilers are on the right track. If you can stash him as a bench option now, he could turn into your number one guy later.
I like to pull for the dark horse but what is the worst that can happen? You have a reliable backup who can put up decent numbers on occasion. Upside is that Scrivens takes the front line role this season and is solidified as the Oilers number one when Fasth goes UFA in July. It is only a matter of time before the team figures it out and starts putting up wins like they should be.
Even in the tough Western Conference there is no reason the talent spoiled Oilers can’t compete for a playoff spot. Even if they don’t compete for a playoff spot but Scrivens is the man, you are looking at north of 30 wins in 55-60 games.
Last season 28 goaltenders played the same or more games than Scrivens. Of those 28 guys only six had a higher save percentages than Scrivens’.922 SV%:
Semyon Varlamov 63 games (.927)
Ben Bishop 63 games (.924)
Carey Price 59 games (.927)
Tukka Rask 58 games (.930)
Sergei Bobrovsky 58 games (.923)
Jonathan Bernier 55 games (.923)
Ben Scrivens 40 games (.922)
That is some elite company. If the offense starved Oilers can improve on their 26th overall goal total (203) it will have a domino effect on the rest of the stats. Another 20-30 goals puts them close to the top half of the league. Scoring more goals usually goes hand-in-hand with more offensive zone time. More offensive zone time could seriously help reduce their league worst 270 goals against.
Scrivens ranked 23rd last season in shots against averaging just over 30 shots per game. The 22 men who faced more rubber played anywhere from 10 to 23 games more than Scrivens. Of those 22 though, only four faced more than the 30 shots per game that Scrivens did and of those four only two [Varlamov (32) and Bernier (32.5)] were in Scrivens’ neighbourhood for save percentage.
So based on the number of shots faced, the increase to his games played and the respectability of his save percentage Scrivens is among the elite options in fantasy providing the increase to one major category… wins.
In the aforementioned comparison Bernier played 55 games and many thought if he were able to play closer to the 63 that Varlamov started, the Leafs would likely have made the post-season. If the similarities in performance stand true, the same could be said of the Oilers and Scrivens. Bernier won 26 games last season. Scrivens projected to win 27 games last year if he had played 60 in an Oilers jersey. That was with the 26th ranked team goals for and worst team goals against. IF the Oil can score 20 more goals, cut back the time in their own end and Scrivens can log in the area of 60 games you have a legitimate candidate for a Top 5 Fantasy Goaltender with 30+ wins.
There are of course draw backs to any risk, the Oilers could get wacky and somehow bring in a number one guy uprooting Scrivens – Not happening.
The Oilers could falter again and despite playing more games and keeping an above average save percentage Scrivens’ wins could suffer – Possible.
Scrivens could suffer a lengthy injury all but killing any fantasy appeal that has/had been built up – and I could win the lottery.
Reader’s Digest Ben
In short, the reader’s digest version is, if you have room it would be a good time to invest in Scrivens and watch the progression of the team in front of him. Eventually they have to get the on ice product going in the right direction don’t they? Why not this year?
You can follow me @TALKwillie
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