James Reimer's Backup: Could the Leafs Promote Someone Internally?
Now, this is a personal opinion. I personally, do not believe goaltender Jonas Gustavsson will monitor the backup role next year for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He's too big of a risk to stunt the growth of one of the Leafs' young goaltenders with the Toronto Marlies.
It's safe to say that the Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs also might not be too confident in Jonas Gustavsson as the team's full-time backup next season.
The goaltender has gone through three heart procedures in less than two years, which as ultimately resulted in inconsistent, poor play.
Not to say Gustavsson is done as an NHL goaltender, but I just get the sense that Burke and company don't have the space or time to wait and see how 'The Monster' pans out.
Gustavsson still has lots of potential, but that's all it is right now, as he has build up his durability first before he can be looked at seriously by NHL teams as one of their two netminders.
Personally, I could see Gustavsson as a throw-in for any one of the Leafs' deals this summer, perhaps contributing to a bigger package.
Now, this is a personal opinion. I personally, do not believe Gustavsson will monitor the backup role next year, he's too big of a risk to stunt the growth of one of the Leafs young goaltenders with the Marlies.
The initial thought would be to sign a grizzled veteran from the free-agent market; however, in my opinion it wouldn't work. It wouldn't because the buds would have too many young goaltenders without enough ice time to share.
In the current circumstances, signing another goaltender would increase the number of employed goaltenders to six. Even if they demote prospects to the ECHL, they would still have to deal with a three-headed monster, either up in the NHL or down in the minors.
So, if the Leafs ship out Jonas Gustavsson and pass on the free options, who's going to mind the net the 30-35 times behind Reimer next season?
Could they look internally to promote one of their budding goaltenders from the minors?
My answer is yes, and my solution is Ben Scrivens.
I know you may scoff at the idea at first, especially considering he's only played one season professionally, however his results were undeniable.
In 13 games to start the season with the Reading Royals, he posted 10 wins and a .938 save percentage, and when he was promoted to the Marlies, he started 33 games and ended with a .924 SP with a pair of shutouts.
He was a big reason for the Marlies staying competitive in the last part of the season, and pushing for a playoff spot.
Is Ben Scrivens suited for the Leafs' 2011-12 backup role?
He's a decent-sized goaltender at 6'2/185 and relies on angles to make the first save, but is very swift moving East-to-West in the blue ice, thus relying on his superb athleticism to make the second, third and fourth saves.
He's also a prototype of what goaltending wizard Francois Allaire likes to work with: a big, positional goaltender. The athleticism Scrivens possesses is an added bonus for Allaire to drool over.
Something that Scrivens has going for him is his familiarity with the North American ice; he's played here all his life.
Jussi Rynnas struggled with the smaller ice here, and even after settling down, it was evident he was still adjusting. Rynnas was also injured last year, preventing him from playing a full year, so another year at the very least is needed to be dubbed "ready."
Owuya's case is simple; he hasn't played one game here yet. Yes, he has played professional hockey overseas since 18, but nonetheless, the North American game is more rugged, and quicker than the European game, and Owuya needs an opportunity to learn and adapt to it.
Also, when is throwing a young, developing goaltender right into the fire ever a good idea (see Gustavsson, Jonas)?
Another reason behind selecting Scrivens as next season's backup: if Reimer can come in and dominate for 37 games, who's to say Scrivens won't be able to play at least as half as well in the same amount of time?
It's just logistics, the Leafs already have too many goalies, and adding another one would make the situation even more sticky. On top of that, we don't have the time to wait for Gustavsson to come around, and we need a suitable backup right now.
Scrivens is as suitable as anybody the Leafs could get, has the poise of a veteran, and the intangibles that can't be taught, which as shown by Reimer, is a formula for success.
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