For the Edmonton Oilers, this current NHL season has been over for a while. Despite being loaded with young talent like Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the team struggled under first year coach Dallas Eakins right out of the gate. Currently at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, the rest of this season is essentially a formality at this point.
However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom this season for the Oilers. In January, the team made a trade with the Los Angeles Kings for backup goalie Ben Scrivens. It was a move that needed to be made, as the platoon of Devan Dubnyk and Ilya Bryzgalov just wasn’t getting the job done. In acquiring Scrivens, the team made a low-risk move in attempts to plug up the giant hole in net. It wouldn’t solve all of Edmonton’s issues, but was at least a promising deal.
Since then, Scrivens has performed well. Despite a 3-4 record, his 2.15 GAA is the best of all five goalies Edmonton has started this year. The same can be said for his .940 save percentage. His moment in the sun came during a bout with the San Jose Sharks in which he posted a league record breaking 59-save shutout win.
Today, the Oilers announced they resigned Scrivens to a two-year, $2.3 million extension. For a team that hasn’t had a lot of luck in net recently, this is a great move.
Essentially, Scrivens landed himself a “show-me” contract. Edmonton didn’t make the mistake of throwing the goalie a huge, Rick DiPietro-sized deal that would leave them cash-strapped and in bad shape if Scrivens ended up busting. Instead, they’re giving him a window to prove himself as a starter in this league. If he ends up not being the real deal, the Oilers can easily trade him next season thanks to his cap-friendly deal. If Scrivens excels, the team finally gets itself a solid starter for the next two years. Seeing that his stats have improved year-over-year since 2011, evidence shows the latter scenario could definitely take place.
The great thing about these contracts is that it should, for all intents and purposes, prevent Scrivens from getting too comfy with his position on the team. These aren’t “franchise goalie” dollars, so while he’s getting a solid deal, he still needs to continue proving his worth. Otherwise, as mentioned before, he’s easily removable.
Long story short; extending Scrivens doesn’t solve all of Edmonton’s problems. They still have to improve their defense, and must continue trying to get the best out of former top draft pick Nail Yakupov. At the same time, they’re giving a chance to a goalie who’s definitely earned a shot to start. The recovery from this rough season won’t be instant, but in resigning Scrivens, the Oilers have at least made themselves some progress.