In a lot of ways, Edmonton is going to be a much, much different place than Los Angeles for Ben Scrivens.
As a pending UFA available to the highest bidder this July, the change that will have the most impact on his career is that he’s now playing behind a much less organized and much less efficient defense. Los Angeles is one of the top two or three shutdown teams in the league, while the Oilers are at the other side of the NHL.
So, naturally, expectations have to be tempered. His stats are bound to tumble from the .935 SP ad 1.97 GAA marks he turned heads with in Los Angeles. But he has an opportunity to earn a good new contract with some team this summer if he plays well in Edmonton, perhaps even with the Oilers. It all depends how he handles the heavier load the rest of this season.
To get an idea of what the best case scenario is, you can look at his season with the Toronto Maple Leafs last year. He was 7-9-0 with a .915 save percentage on one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL. In fact, last season’s Maple Leafs were averaging 32.3 shots against per game, while this year’s Oilers average a slightly better 31.7. The Oilers aren’t a great possession team, but they’re better than those Leafs.
There’s another side to this, though. In his last five starts with Toronto his save percentage was .897, flying in the same ballpark as the .902 mark he posted in 12 games during the 2011-12 season.
If Scrivens can play in Edmonton like he did overall in Toronto last season, it would be about the best result the Oilers could expect. It would be about the best result Scrivens could hope for too, before he negotiates with Edmonton or tries his luck in a saturated goaltender market this summer.
Best case scenario is probably that Scrivens becomes part of a tandem. Worst case scenario is he becomes a decent backup somewhere.
Thursday’s 4-1 loss to Minnesota was the start of this challenge for Scrivens. It’ll be different in Edmonton. His feel-good start to the season is a distant Hollywood dream now.