Scrivens gives Leafs plenty to think about
TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
|Ben Scrivens, who played with the Marlies last season, has worked his way in to the Leafs' goaltending conversation. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - James Reimer isn’t the sort of young man to brashly throw around comments that can be dissected to the ninth degree by Leafs Nation.
The 23-year-old Maple Leafs goalie has a good head on his shoulders and is anything but outlandish. He speaks from the heart.
So it was intriguing on Thursday to hear what Reimer had to say about fellow netminder Ben Scrivens, who is doing his best to make the net competition in training camp a three-man affair.
“I think he is a great goalie and probably has more skill than I do,” Reimer said. “I’m more an example than a mentor. It’s definitely possible to pay your dues (with the Toronto Marlies) and when you get your chance you make the most of it. He is a goalie with that capability.”
Scrivens, of course, pines to be with the Leafs, even with just a one-season taste of the minors. Leafs coach Ron Wilson has been positively impressed by Scrivens through a pair of pre-season games and is confident the Alberta native would fare well if used in a regular-season NHL game.
But Scrivens would not be a starter with the Leafs no matter how well he plays in camp. And knocking Jonas Gustavsson from the backup spot does not yet appear to be in the cards.
“You have to play games,” Wilson said. “It is the only way you can improve. You don’t want a kid with that kind of talent sitting on the bench and being a backup and not playing any games.
“It’s good to practise with the NHL team and face NHL shots, but the situations that happen in an NHL game, you can’t really duplicate in practice, and they are important for the young goalies to go through. The experience will probably be necessary for him.”
Before he became a Leaf last season, Reimer liked the schedule in the minors, as most games are played on weekends, leaving lots of time available for practice during the week. But Scrivens, just one hockey season removed from four years at Cornell, has been there and done that.
“James and I have come from different places,” Scrivens said, referring to Reimer’s junior hockey background. “I have gone through four years of practising a lot. I relish the chance of getting a few more games.
“Everyone has their own path. You can’t take a cookie cutter and make an NHL goalie.”
That Scrivens is even a part of the Leafs goaltending conversation is a testament to his talent. But he recognizes that when all things Maple Leaf are under a microscope, some angles can become juicy a lot quicker.
“Part of playing in Toronto is everyone pays attention to almost everything the team does,” Scrivens said. “If you have a good couple of scrimmages like I did, people start to notice. And have a good couple of half-exhibition games, people start to take notice. I’m not trying to go out there and reinvent the wheel or do anything crazy.”
Though Jussi Rynnas could have some influence once he recovers from an ankle injury, Scrivens could be expected to take on a 50-game workload with the Marlies.
Would that kind of assignment be the next logical step in his development?
“That’s a tough thing to judge because I don’t know what I need since I’ve never been at this point in my career,” Scrivens said. “I trust management with their decisions. Everyone wants to be play in the NHL. I’m no different.”
Does he have more skill than Reimer, as Reimer himself suggested? Scrivens grinned.
“We are the same in that respect because I think he has more skill than I do,” Scrivens said. “Both Monster (Gustavsson) and Reimer are such humble guys, that if you ask either of those two guys where they fit, most likely they are deflecting all of the compliments.
“Hopefully I set myself up to be in that No. 3 hole and I can fit in somewhere. It will be a tough challenge.”