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Photo Credit: Instagram

Meet Ian Scott, a hidden gem amongst the Leafs’ prospects

With the Toronto Maple Leafs having a luxurious amount of goaltending depth, It can be easy to overlook one of their goalie prospects, Ian Scott, who just inked an ATO with the Marlies yesterday afternoon.

And it’s not hard to understand why the Prince Albert Raiders starting net-minder is oftentimes forgotten about.

If you scroll down Toronto’s depth chart, you’ll stumble upon notable names like Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard, who have been the backbone of the Marlies first-place campaign all season long.

Then, there’s Kasimir Kaskisuo, who was loaned to another AHL team, the Chicago Wolves, as he’s simply too good to be treading in the ECHL. And not far behind is Boston College standout and two-time U.S world Junior goalie, Joseph Woll, the Leafs 3rd round draft pick in 2016.

But even with so many goalies ahead of Scott, he’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

“He’s for sure a top 3-5 goalie in the WHL,” said Raiders forward Jordy Stallard, who is currently with the Manitoba Moose on an ATO. “He’s a young guy and he’s really good. He’s had an outstanding WHL career so far.”

The praise for Scott, 19, doesn’t just come from his teammates that are simply tooting his horn. Many around the league hold Scott in a high regard, just ask someone who plays against him four times a year.

“I think he’s definitely one of the more high-end goalies in the league,” said Brandon Wheat Kings forward Stelio Mattheos. “A big guy whose quick and good positionally. He’s pretty solid in my opinion.”

Several players around the WHL, not just on the Prince Albert Raiders, told The Nation Network that they’d rank Scott as a top-five goaltender in the WHL.

To gain some more knowledge on Scott, I reached out to resident goalie guru, Catherine Silverman, for some more intel

Here’s her take on Scott.

 “He’s incredibly quick and mobile down low, although almost to the point that I think he could stand to simplify his game a little bit and set his edges a little more. It’s a little tough to tell if he could calm down a little bit with a better defensive corps in front of him, because he definitely does get a little hung out to dry there.”

When Cat discusses Scott being hung out to dry, she’s speaking about the the Prince Albert Raiders weak defensive corpse that, over the course of the last few seasons, hasn’t given Scott much help.

Especially, in his draft year.

“We were kind of in a rebuilding phase but it was good for him,” said Cavin Leth, a teammate of Scott’s during the Raiders 11th place 2016-2017 campaign. “He got to play a lot of games, and get a lot of starts. He definitely kind of blossomed throughout the season.” The Calgary Alta native posted a 12-31-0 record and finished the year off with a .895 SV% and a 3.69 GAA.

(Photo courtesy of Instagram)

While he manned the crease for a Raiders team that allowed the second most shots in the league, it was hard for Scott to make much noise in his draft year. In a high-scoring league like the WHL, it’s unfair to evaluate goaltenders off their statistics. Especially with Scott, where he was being hung-out to dry on 2 on 1’s and 2 on 0’s, game after game.

That ain’t easy for an 18-year-old, but Scott handled it in stride.

“He took a lot of criticism,” said Kelly Guard, Prince Albert’s goalie consultant. “With the goaltending position, you’re either overpraised or over-criticized. We talked a lot about that. He just kind of brushed off and did his thing. He learnt along the way.”

But still, even with middle-of-the-pack numbers and having a relatively quiet 2016-2017 season, it was apparent Scott oozed of potential.

Besides, the Raiders selected him 9th overall in the 2014 WHL bantam draft, which was the highest a goaltender was selected since Carey Price was drafted 7th overall by the Tri-City Americans in 2002.

The Leafs selected Scott in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, and you’d have to wonder where he could’ve gone if he wasn’t. on a team in the basement of the WHL’s standings.

“I was surprised he didn’t go higher [in the NHL draft],” said Raiders defenceman Max Martin. “I say he’s a top-five goalie in our league for sure.”

But for Scott, it didn’t matter where he was selected–he was just happy to be drafted by an original-six team like Toronto.

“It was a pretty cool feeling. When you grow up, the Leafs are a pretty big name,” Scott told The Nation Network. “Just with what they’ve done for the sport of hockey, and the city—it’s really cool being drafted by them.”

Once he was selected by the Leafs, Scott’s progression really started to come to light, and it caught the eye of Prince Albert’s coaching staff.

“Getting him to get some experience at [Leafs] development camp this summer made a big difference,” said Guard. “He really got an eye-opening on how these guys prepare and look after themselves on and off. the ice.”

(Photo courtesy of Instagram)

After attending the Leafs development camp in the summer, Scott stuck around for parts of the team’s main camp. He even was paired up with Toronto’s starting goalie, Frederik Andersen, from time-to-time.

Heading into his 2017-2018 campaign,  it was clear that Scott would be backstopping a much more improved Prince Albert squad.

Still, Scott was the x-factor in the Raiders securing the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. He finished the year with a 24-16-3 record and he managed to bring his GAA down to 3.10, and increase his SV% to .897–even as Prince Albert’s defence woes continued.

“He was our go-to guy, game-in and game-out,” said Martin. “And then in [the] playoffs, he stood on his head for us and took us to game seven against [Moose Jaw], the top team. He was huge for us.”

Moose-Jaw averaged 4.50 goals per game during the regular season, but Scott limited them to 3.14 goals through the first-round. Plus, he held 70-goal scorer Jayden Halbgewachs to just one goal in the first-round.

“He kept us in it [in games] where they could have had 5 or 6 goals,” said Martin.

After an impressive performance in the first-round of the playoffs, Scott returned home to Calgary to unwind from the season. The day he got home, he got the call that he was going to be headed to the Leafs affiliate, and then he flew out to Toronto the following day.

Scott will be joining an unofficial development camp, of sorts. For the past few years, the Marlies have taken full-advantage of the AHL not having a roster limit, as they’ve carried over 30 players at a time, for the final stretch of the regular season and into the post-season.

“When you get to be around that playoff atmosphere, you just got to soak it all in and learn from it,” said Guard, a former minor-league goaltender himself. “Head down, eyes up mentality, and try to make a good first impression.”

And not to mention getting to be teammates with goaltenders like Sparks and Pickard.

“They’re two great goalies,” said Scott. “I’m excited to learn lots from them when I get the chance. Being here in Toronto, with the Marlies, is a great opportunity.”

The chances of Scott getting some ice-time between the pipes with the Marlies isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but it’s not likely.

Even as the Leafs affiliate faces off against Laval (twice) and Belleville, to close out their regular season, two of the AHL’s worst team’s, it’s unlikely Sheldon Keefe throws the 19-year-old into the mix that quickly.

Nevertheless, time around pro players, the Leafs development staff, and goalies such as Sparks and Pickard could do great wonders of confidence for Scott heading into this years development camp, main camp, and his final WHL season.

Keep your eye out for Ian Scott.