UPDATE: April 28, 2010. Ben Scrivens has signed a one year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Check out the former Cornell Goalie’s great mask photos as well.
It’s interesting to read in various places that the crop of college free-agents isn’t too deep this year. As a goalie I can’t help but think of Cornell’s Ben Scrivens. Last year when he was in the midst of a record-setting junior year I spoke with his goalie coach for inGoal Magazine.
This year the 6’2” 180 lb native of Spruce Grove, Alberta is having another fantastic season. A top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as College Hokey’s top player, Scrivens is leading all major ECAC categories and is a candidate for Player of the Year. He sports a 1.89 GAA and a .933 save percentage, has earned 5 shutouts and is a first team all-star in the ECAC and Ivy League.
You want a goalie who can handle the most important situations? Ben is getting hotter when it counts. He recently had two shutouts in two days to lead his 7th ranked Cornell Big Red to its 12th E.C.A.C. tournament title. Going into Cornell’s first-round N.C.A.A. tournament game against New Hampshire on Friday, Scrivens’s current shutout streak is 230:30 minutes, 10 minutes shy of four straight games. The streak is a Cornell record, which puts Scrivens in elite company. Notable Cornell netiminding alumni include the six-time Stanley Cup winner Ken Dryden, David LeNeveu, and David McKee. (Source, N.Y. Times)
His record as one the the NCAA all-time greats is clear – currently fourth in career shutouts, with 18, and second in consecutive games started, with 103. He will also finish in the top 10 in career save percentage and goals-against average.
It’s clear teams like to go after younger, rawer talent – someone who shows greatness at a young age can presumably rise even futher. But with a few exceptions, predicting goaltending success at a young age is not an easy thing to do. If it was, more teams would draft goalies in the first round. Clearly scouts prefer kids out of Major Junior, but the NCAA impact on the NHL is growing with nearly 25% of players coming out of the college ranks now and guys like Ryan Miller clearly show that college goalies can make the jump. Still, the number of successful NHL goalies who came out of college is not as significant as in other positions. The number that came out as free agents of course is even smaller. But there is a problem with looking only at those stats. They are in a sense self-fulfilling. If teams don’t sign guys because of the lack of successful college free-agents, then college free-agents won’t ever get the opportunity to reverse the trend.
So, if at age 22 we have a kid who has proven consistency and eye-popping stats – why aren’t teams lining up for him? We’ve noted the historical success of goalies from college, and there is also Ben’s size. I’ve seen him described as “big” but 6’2″ these days in not raw-talent big by any means. Today the height of an average NHL goalie is 6’3″ – so if you are looking for raw talent in terms of size, you’d be looking for someone two or perhaps three inches taller than Ben – or more. That’s not to say 6’2″ can’t be great – see Ryan Miller – but absent traditional reasons for signing someone, you’ll need to stand out to catch a team’s attention. If a 6’6″ goalie had Scriven’s stats, don’t you think the market for him would be much bigger?
But why not take a chance? The cost is nothing more than a contract – no draft picks to give up. Surely a team that lacks depth in goal but is cash rich – Hello Toronto! – would give this kid a shot.