Morning Mashup: Goal Tended


Ben Scrivens
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

What’s that? Positives news out of the Leafs‘ camp? I think that deserves a second consecutive post, and its own Morning Mashup! Huh? Lockwhat? Something else is going on?

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Calder Cup run goaltender-in-chief Ben Scrivens to a two year deal yesterday, which I can’t say is definitively a “one way” or “two way” contract, because it’s both. Yup. The first year of the contract is a two-way deal, and the second year is the one way kind. It’s way less complicated than it sounds, and actually kind of a creative solution which – before yesterday – I didn’t even know teams were allowed to do.

Scrivens’ deal will pay him $600,000 in the first year of the contract (at the NHL level) and $625,000 in the second. That’s a remarkable price for a young goaltender who, at worst, projects to be a reliable NHL backup. Alright, I’m just pulling that out of nowhere. He’s young, he’s talented, he could be anything – but whatever it is, it’ll probably be good. Scrivens’ headline making AHL playoff run last spring and vocal commitment to the schoolings of Francois Allaire made his re-signing all but a foregone conclusion for Toronto. Barring, of course, the phantom goaltending upgrade transaction that never occurred.

The two-way component of the first year of Scrivens’ contract positions the Leafs to take advantage of a recently announced pre-lockout waiver period allowing veterans on two-way contracts to play in the AHL during a potential lockout – independent of their age, which would have been the factor in Scrivens’ case that would have prevented him from being waiver exempt.

As I understand it, the Leafs can assign Scrivens to the Marlies (as long as they do so by this Saturday, when the CBA expires) and let then recall him at their leisure mid-season, if the lockout were to end, without Scrivens having to pass through waivers. Great.

The one potential wrinkle in the situation would be if the Leafs did manage to pull off the acquisition of a veteran goaltender to back up James Reimer before the season starts. Some conflicting Twitter discussion suggested Wednesday that when the lockout ends, the ‘provisional’ AHL two-way agreement would cease and Scrivens’ waiver rights would revert to their status (not exempt) under the current CBA, assuming those regulations stay the same. So, even though he’d be in the AHL on a two-way deal, his age would mean that a recall would necessitate a pass through the waiver wire. At the end of the day, I don’t see the Leafs taking that risk. Plenty of goaltending question marks throughout the NHL, and lots of GM’s who’d absolutely be willing to take a flyer on a young goaltender with Scrivens’ potential.

In all likelihood, a Reimer/Scrivens tandem will begin the Toronto Maple Leafs’ hypothetical 2012-2013 season. A few months ago, many would have called that a disaster. Honestly, it’s not, and it’s what should happen. I’ve written that before. A team this relatively early in its rebuilding process (and, if we’re honestly putting denial aside, the Leafs absolutely are) should have its primary focus on the development of assets at every position. An “asset farm,” if you will.

It’s prudent business, and it speaks to the irrelevancy of trying to scrape into the playoffs now when the team’s simply not ready to contend with the championship-calibre squads throughout the league. The youth may soon be ready to take a step, but that youth needs the opportunity to do so. I’d rather have Reimer and Scrivens getting the best possible opportunity for development than see a 30+ year old goaltender eating up twenty-five starts to try and squeak out a few more meaningless (in the long term) 2012 wins for a team that will, probably, miss the playoffs again.

But that’s just my cold, jaded, unforgiving, sort-of-objective opinion. I’d love nothing more than to be wrong.

The fact that Toronto’s got two relatively young, potentially promising-upside players locked into the position for a grand total of less than half Roberto Luongo’s annual salary can’t be a bad thing, either.

Thursday morning links!

-Mr. Mirtle delivers a breakdown of the NHL and NHLPA offers this week, right down to the nitty gritty of the numbers. Terrific piece that’s illuminating and frustrating at the same time. It’s a billion dollar gulf over five years. Significant, sure. But in the grand scheme, it’s such an insignificant percentage of total revenue. I’ve probably got some sort of oversimplified perspective fallacy happening here, but the thought that they can’t just amicably split that difference and start playing hockey is, well, infuriating.

NHL ’13 is out. Here’s IGN’s review. Of course, if you’re like me, reviews are irrelevant and you’ll buy it anyways. Which is shameful, and the exact reason the NHL has the audacity to think it can endure this many frequent labour stoppages.

-Hey, speaking of exactly that: the NHL might not recover from this. That’s always been one of the most irksome points of all this, to me. The duplicitous “our fans will come back” sentiment and the assumption revenue will continue to grow like clockwork for the next ten years at its 2005-2012 rate, even if they keep repeatedly slapping us in the face with gut-wrenching twists of depression like this lockout is sure to do.

-Ulmer talks about Reimer/Scrivens here, kind of like I did up there.

-Toronto prospect and 2012 draftee Matt Finn has been named Captain of the OHL’s Guelph Storm. He’s going to be very, very good. It’s still as mind-boggling to me that the Leafs were able to select him in the second round as it was when they selected Jiri Tlusty in the first.