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Scrivens hopes to be part of Leafs solution in goal

Mike Komisarek #8 and Ben Scrivens #30 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate a victory during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on November 3, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. The Maple Leafs defeated the Blue Jackets 4-1. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

John Grieshop/2011 Getty Images

Logic would dictate the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending situation is going to mean a veteran is added this summer.

Jonas Gustavsson, The Monster, is not expected back.

James Reimer, the struggling sophomore, has been fighting concussion and consistency issues all year and isn't likely to be counted on for more than a backup role.

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And GM Brian Burke simply can't afford to be thin in goal heading into another season, as he has been far too often in Toronto.

Where does that leave Ben Scrivens? Well, probably as a No. 3 again, even after a very strong finish to his AHL season that has seen him go 14-7-0 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .937 save percentage since mid-January.

A lot of goaltenders who have the type of minor-league success Scrivens is currently having with the Toronto Marlies get a shot at the NHL sooner or later.

The problem in Toronto is they have Reimer under contract, and there's no way they can hand the reins to a duo as untested as Reimer-Scrivens in such an important year for the franchise.

Also of note: Scrivens is a restricted free agent this summer, so he's viewing his current time in the NHL as an audition for a contract. He'd like to get a one-way deal, but at this point a two-way with a larger AHL salary seems more realistic.

The only problem is, unless there's a change in the new CBA, he'll have to clear waivers to go up and down next season, complicating how the Leafs will be able to use him.

Even so, Scrivens says he's willing to come back as a No. 3 goalie, even if he'd like more of a chance at an NHL job.

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"I've yet to hear anyone in management say they're going to go out and get a veteran goalie," Scrivens said Monday after practice. "Until that's said in the media, by someone in management, or someone tells me that, my job is to try and push for a job on this team next year.

"That's my mindset. I understand that there's reports on this and that, but you also see a lot of the reports that came out that never came to fruition."

(Which may or may not be a reference to all the Marty Turco talk there was in Toronto earlier this season.)

That was right about the time Scrivens had an eight-game audition with the Leafs, back when Reimer first went down with the head injury.

In four of his starts, he posted a save percentage of .927 or better and looked pretty good, but he was also blown out by the Boston Bruins in his home debut and appeared nervous at times.

Named first star in Toronto's win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, Scrivens is expected to get another start in the rematch on Tuesday and could play out the rest of the season with the Leafs.

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After that point, he'll return to the Marlies and potentially take them on a playoff run, given Toronto's minor-league franchise is one of the best in its conference with their season winding down.

While there have been a lot of snide comments lately about Burke's strategy to bring in unsigned NCAA free agents, Scrivens may still become the best example of that paying off.

"I love this organization," Scrivens said. "They've given me a real opportunity here so I'm grateful and indebted to them. Obviously I'd like to be in Toronto.

"Every game it gets a little bit better [in the NHL] It's so different any time you're coming up [to a different league].. You're just trying to keep your head above water and find your bearings. And there's a long road to travel [to stay with the Leafs]"


- The ranks of the injured in Toronto are getting awfully large, with Mikhail Grabovski the latest to go down after being cut by a skate in Saturday's game. He's day-to-day, but coach Randy Carlyle expects him back by the end of the season.

- Joe Colborne was called up to replace Grabovski, which is a bit of an odd decision given how ice cold he's been in the minors. Colborne has only two points in his last 19 games and has fallen down the Marlies depth chart.

- The only other injured Leafs likely to get back into the lineup would be David Steckel, who skated before practice and then a little bit with his teammates as he tries to recover from a partially torn MCL. If it's still bothering him, however, the games don't mean much, so he could be shut down too.

- Don't expect to see Reimer, Joffrey Lupul or Nikolai Kulemin in action the rest of the year, however.

- The Leafs currently six in sixth last in the NHL. In order to finish in the bottom five, they likely can only win one of their remaining three games. Just a thought for all you draft position watchers out there.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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