Earlier this week we posted 10 Tidbits with new Kings forward Matt Frattin, giving you a chance to learn more about the Kings newest forward. Of course, coming to LA with the former Maple Leaf is goaltender Ben Scrivens.
By now you’ve probably read a few a high-level bullet points on the 26-year old netminder – i.e. he played college hockey at Cornell, was the ECAC Goaltender of the Year his senior season, went undrafted at the NHL’s annual party, started out his pro career with the ECHL’s Reading Royals (same as Jonathan Quick) and is an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2014.
But, we wanted to kick it up a notch and get into the finer points of his game. To help us do that we reached out to Justin Goldman, one of our ‘go to’ goalie experts. He’s the Director of Goalie Scouting for McKeen’s Hockey.
“I think the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s a really good fit for the role that the LA kings need right now, which is I guess a little bit of a gap-filler behind Jonathan Quick,” Goldman said, when asked about his initial thoughts on the trade. “Scrivens is someone that can step in and win some hockey games without needing too much maintenance. I think when you’re talking about a backup NHL goaltender, you want a guy that’s going to come in and be able to maintain his own game and not need too much work. Scrivens has had a pretty decent start to his NHL career. He’s won some big games, he’s had some rough losses. At the end of the day though, he’s a really confident goaltender. He plays with a little bit of flare in his game and has a lot of good, raw skills. I think him- stepping into a roll where maybe he won’t play a ton of games but will have a chance to improve and refine his skills – it’s a good fit for the Los Angeles Kings.”
Scrivens’ NHL experience totals 32 games with the Maple Leafs over the past two seasons, including 20 games in 2013 – where he posted a 7-9 record with a 2.69 goals against average and .915 save percentage. His time with Toronto’s AHL affiliate was highlighted by a post-season run in 2011-12 featuring an impressive 1.92 GAA and .935 save percentage.
Yet, with such limited NHL experience, Goldman says it’s a challenge to get a full read on his potential.
“It’s tough because he hasn’t play a ton of games,” said the goalie guru. “But, Scrivens has a reputation for being a confident goaltender, a very smart individual- we all know he went to Cornell and graduated- so he has a really good head on his shoulders. The guy has a very analytical mind for the position. He also has a very unique glove-hand positioning and that’s kind of been in the spotlight in the goalie realm.”
You’ll notice in the picture above, Scrivens holds his glove with the thumb facing down towards the ice and his elbow up, similar to a catcher in baseball.
“Because he holds it high and holds it with the elbow out, it’s unlike anything you’ll see in the NHL these days,” Goldman remarked.
“A lot of people have discussed it on TV when he does play games, and a lot of people are not sold on it being as effective as it could be,” he continued. “However, he has a certain understanding of how he wants to hold his glove because he believes it’s the most effective way to do so. That’s how he feels the most comfortable. At the end of the day, he has the confidence to do it, and to do it with some success so far in the NHL. This guy is a little bit…still learning what it takes to be a consistent goaltender at the NHL level.”
That last sentence almost sounds like something you might read in a Jonathan Bernier scouting report.
“That’s where a lot of backups lay right now. They’re guys that clearly have the skill and have the will, and they work hard in practice. It’s just a matter of being patient with that development process. When you get the opportunity to play a game or a couple of games, you have to make the most of it, and for the most part I think last season Scrivens did that.”
And, as a guy who scouts goalies for a living, what does he make of this unorthodox glove hand positioning?
“Everyone likes to talk about it just because it’s so unique,” Goldman said. “He’ll have his doubters and he’ll have his supporters. Whenever a goalie starts to do something a little bit different, there’s usually more doubters than there are supporters. If he makes the saves and he wins hockey games, that’s all anyone really cares about and that’s all the coaching staff is going to care about.”
He’s not exactly at the ‘start’ of his career though. Goalies normally develop and hit their stride at about 25-years old. So, is time ticking to a certain degree?
“He’s not a 20-year old just coming out of juniors. This is a guy that graduated college, had a very good season in the AHL, had some success in the NHL level in a very, very tough market like Toronto. He has thick skin, he’s not afraid to step into some tough situations and play that backup role…People will like his footwork, he’s really quick on his feet, good athleticism too. The fact that he plays with a little bit of flare, a little bit of flash, and wears his emotion on his sleeve a little bit- he’s a fun goaltender to watch…He’s a perfect backup to Jonathan Quick, great in that supporter role and can play games. If Quick, knocking on wood here, happens to go down or maybe he just needs a few days off or a few more games off compared to what he normally gets off, Scrivens can get the job done.”
For more on the trade, see the links below.
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