Whether you go by gut-feeling or spreadsheet, there’s no way of knowing for sure if Ben Scrivens is the real deal the Edmonton Oilers have been waiting for in the goal crease, but there’s no question he’s making a compelling and timely case that he is.
I gave my take on Scrivens and Ilya Bryzgalov and Edmonton’s goaltending situation a few days ago as both approach UFA status, so I won’t re-paint the big picture I outlined, but it’s difficult not to look at Scrivens again after he made 35 saves in a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers.
With six games in the books for the Oilers, the 27-year-old stopper from Spruce Grove has stopped 219 of the 231 shots he’s faced, which translates to a .948 saves percentage. He’s 3-3-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average.
Small sample size (as the stats guys are fond of saying)? Sure. Does six games mean GM Craig MacTavish should back up the Brink’s truck for Scrivens to convince him not to test the UFA market? No. This could be a remarkably hot stretch, nothing more.
That said, the reality is MacTavish does not have the luxury of taking a longer look than what he’ll get beyond the end of the regular season where Scrivens is concerned. There’s an element of risk because of that.
The way I see it, MacTavish would be well-advised to make Scrivens and agent Jay Fee an offer sooner rather than later. At the same time, it makes sense for Scrivens and Fee to let this play out and test the market. I tend to think that’s how it’ll unfold.
One thing’s certain, Scrivens couldn’t have picked a better time to play the best goal of his brief NHL career. Every time he puts in a performance like he did against the Rangers, his price goes up. While he’s not going to play at a .948 clip indefinitely, he’s going to get paid.
ALL THAT TALK ABOUT SAM
I’d like to think that even Sam Gagner’s harshest critics, and there are many who fall into that category, understand that trading him to the Los Angeles Kings for Kyle Clifford straight up is a move only a fool would make. Say what you want about MacTavish, he’s no fool.
While it’s nonsense on so many levels, at least as a one-for-one swap, there’s so much smoke surrounding discussions between L.A. GM Dean Lombardi and MacTavish that there’s got to be some fire there. One supposed insider even suggested today via Twitter Gagner would be shipped to Tinseltown before the New York game. Well, no.
The only way a swap involving Gagner and Clifford makes sense – I’m not the first to suggest this – is if there’s other players involved on both sides, and I’m not just talking about Lombardi flipping the draft pick the Oilers gave up for Scrivens back to Edmonton.
Youngster Tyler Toffoli, a centre, was the subject of much speculation as an add-in from the L.A. side of things, but that tips the scales too far in favor of the Oilers for Lombardi to bite. If this talk turns into a trade, there’s got to be somebody from Edmonton’s end going south to square it up.
WHAT ABOUT RAMSAY?
If the Oilers are looking to add a coach to their staff in support of Eakins between now and next season — they are — they should be taking a long look at Craig Ramsay, who was sacked by the Florida Panthers last November when head coach Kevin Dineen was let go.
Ramsay, 62, who has made coaching stops with Florida, Ottawa, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2004, is the kind of teacher and technical coach who’d be a fit here.
WHILE I’M AT IT . . .
. . . I said it on Twitter today and I’ll say it again: while I see a need for MacTavish to bolster his forwards with grit and size that can play in the top six, I’d like to think he’s making calls about proven defensemen. You won’t get a top-pairing blueliner for Gagner, but I’d like to think he can fetch a veteran capable of playing in the second pairing here.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.