One thing that has been interesting with the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason is the amount of competition that has been created within the team.
Outside of signing Colby Armstrong and trading for Kris Versteeg, the forward lines have remained relatively intact, leaving for plenty of competition within the locker room.
Defense is still to be determined, with Brian Burke trying to move Tomas Kabaerle, and there already being seven other worthy NHL defensemen on the team in Francois Beauchemin, Jeff Finger, Carl Gunnarsson, Mike Komisarek, Brett Lebda, Dion Phaneuf, and Luke Schenn. Competition for playing time in any aspect is going to be both tough and close.
But regardless of how many players are vying for spots in both the forward and defensive positions, it is argued that the most competitive position on the team is in net.
Not only is it going to be competitive on the NHL club, it is going to be competitive throughout the system on both the Marlies and Toronto's ECHL affiliate, the Reading Royals.
Brian Burke signed two prospects in Finnish goaltender Jussi Rynnas and collegiate standout Ben Scrivens.
Jussi Rynnas absolutely tore up SM-Liiga, gathering a very respectable 2.50 GAA and a .929 SPCT. He was a very important member of the Assat club and could be a dark horse that could surprise if there is an injury in net.
But unlike Gustavsson last season, Rynnas comes in with no pressure. Plus he is willing to play in the minors to develop his game. Which is a plus.
If he can keep up his strong play and hone his skills, he could be playing with an NHL club next season and a dark horse to take some time away from J.S. Giguere and Jonas "the Monster" Gustavsson.
Ben Scrivens is an interesting option as well. He was an ECAC champion, collegiate first team all star, Rookie of the Year, and Hobey Baker Award team finalist. What's even more impressive are his stats from last season.
Last year, he accumulated an impressive 1.87 GAA, .934 SPCT, seven shutouts, and a 21-9-4 record.
By the looks of it, he seems like a sure fire NHLer right? Wrong. The issue that worries Leafs brass is the fact that Cornell, the college he comes from, plays a highly defensive style.
If Scrivens can prove he can play just as well out of that style, he could easily be in a Leafs uniform for the 2011-12 season.
Both possess the tools to make it in the pro ranks, it will all be a matter of how fast they can get used to the pro style of game.
Added to the equation is a Maple Leaf draft pick that is trying to make a name for himself.
James Reimer had a rough first professional year. he had multiple injuries throughout the season. But in the time he did play, he showed he has the potential to be something special.
While playing in front of a porous Marlies squad, he had a record of 14-8-2 record while having a 2.28 GAA and a .925 SPCT.
Unlike the other two mentioned before, Reimer does have experience in the pro ranks. Plus he is younger than both Rynnas and Scrivens.
If he can continue his development, he could come out on top of the heap after this season and give both Rynnas and Scrivens a run for their money.
The competition between these three is going to be fierce because none of them want to end up in the ECHL fighting their way back.
But which ever one shows that they want it the most and can prove to Leafs management that they have what it takes.
You better believe that if either Gusatavsson or Giguere falter this season, one of these three will be more than happy to take their place and further establish themselves as the real deal.
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