From Pension Puppets
Optimus Reim is up for free agency this summer. Should the Maple Leafs re-sign him, or trade him?
James Reimer was drafted out of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels in the 4th round, 99th overall at the 2006 NHL entry draft. in the following two seasons in the WHL Reimer played 90 games, with a 34-38-11 record. He had a .914 save% and a 2.70 GAA.
Post-Junior he headed to the ECHL, and the Maple Leafs then affiliate the Reading Royals. The Royals were not very good so the Leafs arranged a trade to the South Carolina Stingrays, who were heading o the Kelly cup playoffs. Reimer would only play 6 regular season games for the Stingrays but won all 6 with a .961 sv% and 1.32 GAA. in the playoffs Reimer would play 8 games, post a 4-3 record and help the Stingrays win the Kelly Cup.
Reimer would split the next two seasons between the Leafs and the Marlies, before sticking around for mid way through the 10/11 campaign, making his first career NHL start on January 1st, 2011.
Maple Leafs History
James Reimer’s time with the Leafs hasn’t been a story book, though one on “dealing with a terrible boss” should be made about it, and it can be based on his play in the Maple Leafs only 7 playoff games since 2005, then seeing a brand new starter brought to town that summer…..
Reimer’s full time gig with the Maple Leafs came as he was the starter for the 2011/12 season. He kicked things off with a 2-0 shutout of the Canadiens, and the team would go 4-1-1 before meeting up with the Canadiens again on October 22nd, 2011 when this would happen:
The Leafs would be adamant it wasn’t a concussion, calling it whiplash instead. The Leafs would hand over the crease to Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens for the time Reimer was off. He would return early, after missing 19 games, but wasn’t him self until the season was essentially lost.
The lockout shortened season would see the Leafs make the playoffs, and the Leafs would be out coached the entire series. Reimer played well in the playoffs, but the Bruins would score 3 goals in the final 10 minutes to force overtime, and score shortly into OT to overcome a 4-1 deficit.
That summer the management would bring in LA Kings backup Jonathan Bernier, who, despite having the same amount of experience as Reimer, was held up as a model of a “winning pedigree”, whatever that means.
Both goalies would split the crease over the next few seasons, the Maple Leafs failing to make the playoffs since 2013.
Reimer would post respectable numbers over his season with the Maple Leafs:
The Maple Leafs have two goalies who could be their starters. Neither is making more than $5m+ so they are a good price, however James Reimer is only making $2.3m to Berniers $4.15m. If you want to re-sign James Reimer he will most likely ask for money near Berniers level. At that point you’ll have two goalies with good, not great, numbers, taking about just over $8m of your salary cap.
That is assuming, of course, that Reimer wants to stay. After making Bernier the defacto starter, despite what the GM’s have told the press, you could get the indication that Reimer may feel under appreciated, especially after being replaced when you took the team to their first playoffs in 8 years, and lost to the eventual Cup finalists in over time of game 7.
If you don’t trade Reimer you risk losing him for nothing. If you can’t get a reasonable extension signed, and rumours currently say 5-7 years at $4.5-$5.5m per, you need to deal him. That’s too much term for a goalie who’s never played 40 games. The best risk here is to trade him and tell him you’ll try to re-sign him on July 1st. If he really does love this team, he’d understand.
Bernier isn’t the future. He’s putting up average numbers, and isn’t living up to the hype he had coming out of LA. He’s the least consistent goalie in the Leafs system and Garret Sparks has shown a lot of promise with the Leafs and Marlies this year to rival him for Reimer’s partner.
Bernier is the best option to trade, though with 1 more year of a $4.15 cap hit that could be tough. $2m of that is a signing bonus, so you could keep both this year and try to trade Bernier after July 1st when his actual Salary is just over $2m.
Reimer is a swell guy, always smiling, and truly loves playing here. He’s said he wants to be a Maple Leaf for life, and he’s one of the few who I believe mean it. He’ll do a good job of tending goal for the young Maple Leafs. his calm on ice demeanor is a positive influence for the amount of rookies that will be filling the locker room at the ACC.
What would you do?
Me, I’d push him to sign an extension before the deadline. Get some solid numbers. If it’s too far from where you want them to be, let him know you need to do whats best for the franchise and not risk losing him for nothing. You’ll reopen talks on July 1st if you can, but right now you need to keep moving.
If it’s close, keep him, keep working on the deal. The goalie market isn’t too hot with teams in need. If you let Reimer walk, you either run Bernier/Sparks or could somehow end up with Cam Ward/Bernier.
The real question here that needs to be asked is:
Will Reimer still be at the top of his game when this team is ready to win?