Say what you will about the struggles of the parent club, or about its general manager, Brian Burke, but the Leafs’ minor-league goaltending might be the best of any team in the National Hockey League.
It starts with Jussi Rynnas, this summer’s most eligible undrafted European goaltender. The 23-year old, 6’5” net-minder had a breakthrough season in Finland’s top league last season, posting a sparkling 0.931 SV% through 31 games with Assat Pori. This year, he’s split time in net with Leafs’ draft pick James Reimer (more on him in a moment) and although his 3-3-1 record isn’t going to turn any heads, his 1.95 GAA and 0.936 SV% are both among the best numbers in the league and indicate a player that is getting the job done.
Splitting time with Rynnas is James Reimer, the Leafs’ fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft. After a solid WHL career with the Red Deer Rebels, Reimer worked his way up from the ECHL and was the Marlies’ best goaltender last season, with his 0.925 SV% easily overshadowing the numbers of veterans Adam Munro and Joey MacDonald. Reimer has dipped slightly in the early going (down to a 0.919 SV%) but has still been very impressive.
Behind those two on the Toronto depth chart is Ben Scrivens, the Cornell University star who was the Leafs’ less heralded goaltending signing over the summer. Scrivens was probably the second-best undrafted free agent goaltending prospect on the market (right behind Rynnas), and he made the odd choice of signing with a team as rich in goaltending talent as the Leafs, and has consequently been stuck in the ECHL with the Reading Royals. He’s been superb through six games, recording a 0.930 SV% which easily outpaces incumbent starter Matt Dalton (0.892 SV%). This perhaps isn’t overly surprising, given that Scrivens has topped the 0.930 mark with Cornell in each of the last three seasons.
The obvious caveat with all three of these players is that it’s early: any of them could backslide or disappoint from this moment on (some would argue, given that they’re Leafs’ property, that this is likely). But entering this season, all three deserved serious consideration as future NHL goaltenders, and all three have done nothing but live up to their reputations.