Oilers Sign Ben Scrivens

Derek Leung

The Edmonton Oilers have signed goaltender Ben Scrivens to a new two-year contract, which according to Josh Rimer, will give him a cap hit of $2.3M per season. It's an interesting deal, a touch more than what I thought the Oilers would need to spend to retain his services given that Scrivens hadn't yet received a strong NHL payday, but remains very likely to provide them with strong value if Scrivens can provide average NHL goaltending.

The deal currently puts him in a tie for the 25th highest cap hit among goaltenders for the 2014-15 season. The guy he's tied with, Ben Bishop, was signed by Tampa Bay in somewhat similar circumstances last season, but the differences--Bishop was an RFA and signed into a lower cap--highlight some strong negotiating from Craig MacTavish. If Scrivens works out as well for the Oilers as Bishop has for the Lightning, I'm sure we'll all be thrilled.

So is that likely? That might be a step too far, but it certainly seems plausible. Scrivens has put up a .925 even strength save percentage during his career so far, but that spans just 1,326 even strength shots in parts of three seasons. That save percentage number is quality for an NHL starter, but the sample size simply isn't large enough for us to be very confident about his ability to sustain it. One thing that does point in the direction of confidence in that regard is Scrivens' AHL performance: his overall save percentage in that league during the regular season is .923 on 2,626 shots against. It's not a sure thing, but this is a decent bet.

If I were to complain at all about the deal, it's that the two-year term and relatively low financial commitment makes this a pretty conventional signing for a promising but largely unproven goaltender. It would be interesting to know how much more the Oilers would have had to spend to sign Scrivens for, say, five or six years. If it was somewhere in the neighbourhood of $3M to $3.5M per season, it's a substantially riskier move that could pay off in a huge way if things worked out well because it would give the Oilers a below-market starter in their window to contend.

As it stands, this deal is a good one, but very conservative. Scrivens will likely be fighting for the starter's job next season (just as Bishop battled with Anders Lindback in Tampa Bay this season), so Craig MacTavish is probably going to add another goalie at a similar price point. Hopefully it works to provide the Oilers with much more stability in goal and brings them a little bit closer to meaningful games in March.

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