James Reimer Traded: Now What?

February 28th, 2016 No Comments

James Reimer is highly regarded as a tremendous person, but his excellent personality wasn't enough to keep him in the Blue and White uniform of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

James Reimer is highly regarded as a tremendous person, but his excellent personality wasn’t enough to keep him in the Blue and White uniform of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With news hitting the airwaves yesterday afternoon that Toronto Maple Leafs netminder James Reimer and Toronto Marlies forward Jeremy Morin had been traded to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for netminder Alex Stalock, forward Ben Smith and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 (becomes a third if SJ reaches the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals), a new era between the pipes in Toronto is all but certain.

With Reimer garnering the lions share of the work in the cage this season, it appears as if the Maple Leafs will be looking to move on from Jonathan Bernier in the not so distant future, clearing a path for one or both of netminders Garret Sparks and Antoine Bibeau (both playing with the Marlies this season) to eventually assume the role as Toronto’s number one goalie. One things for certain, newly acquired Alex Stalock is not the answer for Toronto.

While Bernier got the start last night against the Montreal Canadiens (a 4-1 loss), there is little doubt that Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello has seen enough of Bernier to determine that, like Reimer, Bernier is not the long term answer to Toronto’s goaltending woes.

Like Reimer, Bernier has struggled to put forward a consistent effort between the pipes and, as such, played himself out of the number one goaltender status and looks to be playing himself out of the organization.

While the market for goaltenders is limited right now, Lamoriello will likely make trading Bernier a priority this summer. The return for Bernier will almost certainly mirror what the Leafs got in return for Reimer— spare parts and maybe a third or fourth round draft choice.

This summers crop of unrestricted free agent goaltenders is soft. Cam Ward, Jonas Hiller, Niklas Backstrom, Kari Rammo, Anton Khudobin and Jonas Enroth headline what’s available this summer, none of which will likely have Lamoriello chomping at the bit to sign one of them to a deal.

With that in mind, it would appear as if the Maple Leafs will open the 2017 season with one or both of Sparks and/or Bibeau between the pipes or Lamoriello could work some magic and acquire a goaltender via trade.

Which goalies could potentially be on the trade block this summer, you ask?

With Petr Mrazek emerging as the number one netminder in Detroit, the Detroit Red Wings may look to trade Jimmy Howard and his $5.29 million cap hit out of town. While the jury is out on whether or not Howard is worth that kind of contract, he does have a decent resume, including a measure of success in the playoffs.

Howard’s relationship with former Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock (now Maple Leafs head coach) is well documented as being “rocky” at times. That said, Howard might be a decent option for a team that will likely be in dire need of a starting netminder next season.

Of course, there are other options.

Frederik Andersen or John Gibson might be available out of Anaheim. That said, if Lou Lamoriello was to pull off a deal for one of Anaheim’s talented beasts of the crease it would cost the Maple Leafs a very steep price.

Would the St. Louis Blues be willing to trade one of Brian Elliot or Jake Allen?

One things for sure, if the Maple Leafs are targeting a netminder via trade they will have to be prepared to part with some of their assets, with names like Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner likely in the conversation.

When you add it all up, the likelihood of Howard, Andersen, Gibson, Elliot or Allen being traded this off-season seems remote. Lamoriello was able to pry Cory Schneider away from the Vancouver Canucks when he was GM of the New Jersey Devils— could he pull another rabbit out of a hat and land a number one goalie via trade for the Maple Leafs?

The more you think about it, the clearer it gets that, if Toronto is going to get their hands on a number one goaltender they will likely have to develop one themselves.

Either way, Reimer was not the answer in Toronto. Bernier is not the answer in Toronto. Only time will tell if Toronto can and/or will have a true number one goalie between the pipes next fall.

Leave a Reply