|Ben Scrivens shows off his new Oilers themed goalie gear at practice in Edmonton.
The Edmonton Oilers have liked what they’ve seen from goalie Ben Scrivens
so far. So much so that on Monday, they signed the 27 year-old to a two-year contract worth just over two million per year.
With both Scrivens and Ilya Bryzgalov
set to become free agents at the close of the season, decisions would soon have to be made in order to secure at least one of the two heading into next season. As the Oilers search for their longterm netminder, it would appear that Scrivens factors into that equation.
Although Scrivens has not had a large sample size to confirm he is ready to take on the workhorse role for a NHL team, he has certainly earned the opportunity to show what he’s got.
“Great for that young man,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said of Scrivens’ new contract. “Obviously, I’ve been able to watch him progress from a kid out of college to finally earning a real good NHL contract. He’ll continue his journey here to see if he can secure and become that goalie that he thinks he can become. Ben firmly believes he can be a number one. The jury is still out on that but he’s certainly earned his contract.”
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Scrivens has posted solid NHL numbers. He’s currently at the head of the class in the league for save percentage this season, at .934. Since joining the Oilers via trade on January 15, Scrivens has excelled with a .940 save percentage and 2.15 goals against average. He set a new National Hockey League record on January 29, for most saves in a shutout win by making 59 stops against the San Jose Sharks.
|Photo by Getty Images. |
“He’s been great for us since he came in and he’s played really solid,” Oilers forward Boyd Gordon said. “He’s been a good addition for our team and we’re obviously very happy for him.”
Scrivens is a confident young man who just wanted an opportunity to prove his doubters wrong.
“I know the kid’s a fighter,” Eakins said. “He’s fought himself out of being a free agent to an east coast league goalie to an American league goalie, to a goalie who took a team to a league final in the American league and to scrape to get into the NHL. We’re fortunate to have him an he’s got a great opportunity here as well.”
Before arriving in Edmonton, the 6-foot-2 193 pound goaltender spent time with both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Los Angeles Kings. In 58 total NHL games, Scrivens has compiled a 21-23-6 record and six shutouts with 2.49 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.
After going undrafted and after earning his way through the minors and after serving as a backup and after being traded by two clubs, Scrivens was just searching for an opening and a team that would give him the best chance at a job.
“That definitely factored into it,” Scrivens said. “Nobody ever hands someone a starting job. It’s a great opportunity and now the real work begins. I’ve got to start competing with Bryz for the rest of the year and then carry on from there and try to come into camp next year and assert myself as the guy. That being said, this team is going to play the goaltender that gives them the best chance to win each and every night and I’ve got to work hard to try and make sure that’s me.”
Scrivens believes he can handle a larger workload and be the number one goalie, playing 60 or more games per season.
|Photo by Getty Images. |
“I think you have to have that self confidence. It’s not just me, it’s every guy in the NHL and every guy in the minors right now. You have to have that internal belief and internal drive that you have what it takes. I’ll say yes, but I don’t think I’m any different than any of the other guys.”
Scrivens’ numbers are good. So good in fact that he would draw some interest from teams had he went to the open market at the end of the season. However, he’ll never find out just what kind of interest there would have been because Edmonton is where he wanted to be.
“I’m comfortable here,” the freshly inked goalie said. “I made a decision that’s best for me both career wise and family wise. It’s nice to be able to play at home. It’s always a gamble to go into free agency. I’ve never been an unrestricted free agent but there are so few jobs in the NHL. In the crease, there are only 60 jobs and 30 starters and I really don’t know if I would have been able to get a better opportunity to establish myself as a go-to guy (than) here. I’m definitely not regretting this decision. I’m extremely excited about the opportunity.”
Opportunity aside, Scrivens is also thrilled to stay in his hometown area. The Spruce Grove native says that staying close to home wasn’t the deciding factor but it’s an added bonus.
“It’s kind of the icing on the cake. I think I would have made a decision that was best for my family and me career wise, whether that was Edmonton or not. But that being said, the fact that it is Edmonton is just an added bonus for me. It’s great to be able to play more games in Edmonton at home.”
The Oilers head coach has had the opportunity to watch Scrivens grow from a young age, having coached him with Toronto’s AHL affiliate; the Marlies. The progression in Scrivens’ game has been something that has impressed Eakins. It is something that provides promise to the Oilers who will seek to reap the benefits of their investment.
“Incredible,” Eakins said of Scrivens’ progression and improvement over the years. “He’s a smart kid. He understands things he has to improve on and he takes note of what’s going on around him. He’s just progressed so much and he’s still got progression to go. The kid’s got a fire in him. I think he believes there’s a lot of people out there that don’t believe he can be a number one guy in the league and he wants to prove them wrong.”