Entering the 11/12 NHL regular season this year is going to be as scary in net as it has been since CUJO and The Eagle left town. This year (like last year) we are dealing with a prospect that has a huge upside, everything looks good on paper except for the Games Played stat. Its no secret that Toronto has been big for sophomore slumps after watching it happen to the likes of Schenn, Gunnar, Bozie, Gustavsson + in the past two seasons.
The difference between this season and last year on the other hand is a wealth of goaltending talent that has the ability to step in should Reimer faulter in his sophomore season. Both Gustavsson and Scrivens are goalies that I see getting some NHL time next season (maybe only breifly for Scrivens.) This is how I see the season shaping up for each keeper:
James Reimer: The season begins with Optimus Reim, a good portion of our early on success will be put on his shoulders, and it will be a key time for him to perform. Last season Reimer came to the Leafs with no expectations whatsoever, during his time with the Leafs he helped inject a pulse into the lifeless Leafers. Game by game he propelled the Leafs by instilling confidence from the backend. The part Leafs fans should get excited about was during that stretch Reimer did two things:
A) He had stretches where he played iffy, and came back with big efforts after getting some rest and
B) He continued playing at a high level when games started to mean something, suggesting he will be able to handle the pressure that will soon sorround him.
In the end im not sold on Reimer continuing his dominating play, I feel that his numbers will regress early on to the low .900's (im thinkin .905ish) but he will pick it up in the second half (ala Gunnarson this year.) finishing in the ball park of 25-30 wins with a .910-.915 sv%
Jonas Gustavsson: For the first time in his career Gustavsson will play for the Leafs with little expectation to carry the team, That could be huge early on IF the monster learns some balance in his style. The Monster likes to make that big save, unfortunatly that big save often is made because he is out of position and has to explode into the puck quickly. Having that skill is great, because when he is truely down and out he will have the ability to get infront of the puck. Things he needs to work on are stick work when moving side to side (his 5-hole is often wide open, my example is the Seguin goal) and to calm down and not be so antsy and over move when his defence starts running around. This season could very well be his break out year with the Leafs, and if he cant be there when the Leafs need him it will be his last chance.
I am 50-50 on the monster putting up respectable numbers, but ill give him the benefit of the doubt after his mini stint in the AHL, the ability to play at a high level is still there, he just needs to tweak his game, I'll say he puts up 10-15 wins with a .908 sv%
Ben Scrivens: He is my Last of the 3 possible Leaf goalies this season (Rynnas is far to raw for the NHL right now.) This is a guy that has completely taken me by surprise with his super consistent numbers from league to league, his G.A.A. dipped by .10 from the ECHL to the AHL. He came onto a marlies team that was so-so and put up the best numbers on the team (better than Reimers) aside from the Monsters 5 game stint. he is my X factor, he has the skills to be this years Reimer and takes the Reins if he gets the chance. If he gets some starts you can expect him to be good, not great, but on the flip side he will give you a consistent effort. I wont put any predictions up for win loss, but I see him with about a 2.50-2.60 G.A.A. with a .910 sv% (unless he flubs in the NHL.)
Again its a season filled with question marks for the Leafs, lets hope some of those questions have positive results as we look forward to a playoff push.