The book on Ian Scott, the Toronto Maple Leafs fourth round draft pick at 110th overall, is that he’s got great fundamentals but you should ignore his stats because his team was really bad.
I’ve heard that line before, and for the same reason. You’re not supposed to look at Tyson Barrie’s stats; you’re supposed to know he’s good and his team is terrible. You’re not supposed to pay attention to Mitch Marner’s very high Corsi Against; you’re supposed to know that’s Tyler Bozak’s fault.
With a skater, it’s often possible to delve a little deeper into the stats, rather than ignoring them, and figure out what those results mean about the player as opposed to the team. With a goalie that’s a bit harder. With a goalie outside the NHL, that’s really, really hard to do. It’s not actually wrong to say of a teenage prospect that his fundamental skills matter more than his results, either.
But, I still feel very dubious about these assurances.
Maple Leafs Hot Stove did an excellent profile on Scott, and you should read it. They quote both Mark Hunter and Darren Pang as on board the “excellent fundamentals, don’t look at his stats” train.
I do want to look at his stats.
Ian Scott via Elite Prospects
|2012-2013||Calgary Northstar Sabres Btm AAA||AMBHL||-||2||0.943|
|2013-2014||Calgary Northstar Sabres Btm AAA||AMBHL||22||3.12||0.916||Playoffs||3||4.33||0.901|
|Team Calgary North||Alberta Cup||3||3.78||0.917|
|Calgary Northstars Midget AAA||AMHL||16||2.75||0.917|
|Prince Albert Raiders||WHL||26||3.24||0.892||Playoffs||1||5.52||0.8|
|Canada White U17||WHC-17||4||2.78||0.9|
|2016-2017||Canada U18||Hlinka Memorial||1||1.86||0.913|
|Prince Albert Raiders||WHL||50||3.69||0.895|
Scott had some good results as a very young player, and he was drafted very high into the WHL, highest place for a goalie since some kid named Carey Price. But in the WHL, and in tournaments since, he’s been fairly consistently bad.
And just how bad were the Prince Albert Raiders last season when Scott was their starter? They weren’t the worst team in the WHL. There were actually two teams with a lower points percentage, but .340 is really, really terrible. They scored 198 goals and allowed 283.
The two best goalies in the WHL last year (by save percentage where they were tied at .927) were Carter Hart and Connor Ingram. You might recognize those names because they were both drafted in 2016, and they each played four games for Canada at the WJC in January.
Ian Scott is a long, long way down the list from them. Not the bottom, but very much in the middle, which is not where you want to see a starter. Until you apply an age filter, that is.
Scott is the only U18 goalie to have been a full season starter in the WHL. (He turned 18 in January this year while those guys almost two years older were in the WJC.) He had 50 games to 36 for the second most busy young man. He is third in save percentage for his age behind two goalies who played 10 and 19 games.
But don’t forget, he wasn’t exactly stellar in the U18 tournament. He got tuned up pretty hard by kids his own age. For example: Canada lost to Sweden in the quarterfinals 7-3. Scott faced 34 shots and let in six goals. But the fact that he was there at all in that game says that Hockey Canada, like Darren Pang and Mark Hunter, sees something worth developing.
So what are they seeing?
First, and importantly, he has the right body type. There is a wide-ranging argument in hockey circles about goalies and size. It’s wrong to think that a goalie succeeds because he is big — that he simply stops pucks by blocking the maximum possible area of the net. It’s also wrong to try to claim that reach and height are irrelevant.
Scott has the same wingspan as Eemeli Räsänen, except he’s four inches shorter. He also scored very well in the vertical jump and the standing long jump, both events that goalies often do well in. The wingspan is key, however. There were at least eight goalies in the top 25 at this year’s combine. Reach matters, and most of the drafted goalies were disproportionately long-limbed compared to the skaters.
Beyond his tall, long-limbed body, which he is likely going to work on adding mass to (he weighed 169 lb at the combine), he is also good at many of the things that lead to success in the net.
What gets praised over and over with Scott is his positioning, both his body and glove hand as well as his location within the crease and in cutting down angles. His lateral speed gets praise, Hunter mentioned that specifically, but his footwork is noted as needing work. He seems to have all the skills. But the results don’t show it.
Future Considerations’ year-old report on him is typical of every scouting report out there:
A goaltender who balances challenging opposing shooters and when to drop back into his crease and hold the fort…cool when handling shots to the glove hand, keeping the glove angled according to net position and the situation in front…swallows up high shots without any rebounds, pinning pucks to his chest or belly pad…quickness is elite and whether it be his pads or glove hands, he was constantly flashing his limbs at pucks…has a lanky frame, but makes himself look massive in the net by being assertive in the crease…battles and quickly reacts to pucks in tight, often getting into his butterfly and forcing the shooter to be perfect and go high on him…constantly adjusts to square the puck up and seldom is caught out of position…plays a technically superior game and is excellent at controlling motion within the net…weathers the mental grind of the game and keeps himself unphased whether he is untested for stretches or stuck in a pressure cooker with lots of pucks coming his way…has the potential to be a pro starter even though he is a few years away. (May 2016)
This all seems promising. Positioning is often the downfall of many a promising looking goalie. Antoine Bibeau is no longer a member of the Leafs organization because, while he had size, quickness and skill, he scrambled around in the net most of the time, leading some to see spectacular saves and others to see a goalie who was never in position when he needed to be.
Kasimir Kaskisuo always has good positioning, but his tracking of the puck has seemed suspect to me at times. This is what I would want to look for with Scott. While it is likely that some of his poor results are due to desperately bad play in front of him — not volume of shots so much as volume of errors you just don’t see on a better team — some of it has to be him too. There has to be some aspect to Scott’s game that is causing him to let in too many pucks.
The way to fix that is to work on all aspects of goalie development and get the best coaches. Goalies need specialist help. Most players elite enough to get drafted have some special training, but a goalie academy is usually where you will find the drafted prospects.
Scott has been with World Pro Goaltending in the past, and he attended a Hockey Canada camp earlier this summer. Now he has the chance to expand on that with whatever the Leafs can offer him.
The new phase of his development begins this weekend where he will join the rest of the prospects at the Leafs development camp. It will be of particular interest to see how he measures up to last year’s draft pick, Joseph Woll.
What can we expect? That he plays to his full potential. We can only hope his results start matching the scouting reports.