James Reimer’s Stock Is On The Rise: Is It Time To Trade Him?
Not since Eddie Belfour and, before him, Curtis Joseph, roamed the crease, have the Maple Leafs enjoyed the type of goaltending they have received from the likes of Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer this season.
Heading into Toronto’s tilt against the Vancouver Canucks this Saturday night, Reimer owns an unblemished 4-0-0 record (1.99 goals against average, 0.949 save percentage), while Bernier owns an equally impressive 6-4-0 record (2.31 GAA, 0.933 SV%).
Through ten games played, Bernier owns the seventh best save percentage, 13th best goals against average and ranks fifth overall with 305 saves. Meanwhile, in a more limited role, Reimer owns the second best save percentage and the seventh best goals against average.
Given Toronto’s penchant for being outshot on a nightly basis (Toronto gives up 36.1 shots per game—29th overall), the performances of both Bernier and Reimer have been nothing short of impressive.
Heading into the season, both management and fans acknowledged that Bernier and Reimer would have to duke it out until one of the talented netminders emerged as the true number one option. Unfortunately, 14 games into the 2013-14 schedule, we are no closer to endorsing either Reimer or Bernier as Toronto’s number one goalie, which means Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle is left with a 1 and 1A scenario.
Carrying a cap hit of $1.8 million, Reimer represents one of the NHL’s most affordable options between the pipes. That said, Reimer becomes a restricted free agent after this season, which means his future with the Maple Leafs is in question, at best.
Bernier, carries a cap hit of $2.9 million. He too becomes a restricted free agent, but not until after the conclusion of the 2014-15 season. With Toronto Maple Leafs general manager trading for Bernier this off-season, it is doubtful he would trade Bernier, but one never knows.
With both netminders playing solid hockey, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis has some options.
First, Nonis can keep both goaltenders in the fold, giving his club a measure of stability should one of them succumb to injury. Second, Nonis could trade one of his netminders for help up front. Trouble is, with both playing so well, which netminder goes?
Recently, the likes of the Anheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller, Viktor Fasth and now Frederik Anderson), Boston Bruins (Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask), Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo, Corey Schneider), and others have enjoyed a measure of success while employing two great goalies.
Thus far, Anaheim has chosen to hold onto their riches between the pipes, the Bruins watched as Thomas retired last season (subsequently came back and signed with the Florida Panthers this season) while the Canucks opted to trade Scheider to the New Jersey Devils.
In hindsight, holding onto both of their goaltenders has served Anaheim well. Allowing Thomas to leave/retire has been good for Boston, while the jury is still out on the Canucks’ decision to trade Schneider and keep Luongo.
The point is, whether you hold onto your netminder or trade them away, there really is no way of knowing what the future holds or what the right decision is at the time. In the end, each NHL GM must make an educated guess as to which netminder will excel in their market and decide if the market value for the expendable goalie will garner enough of a return for him to consider trading a valuable asset.
While it is still early for Nonis to consider trading one of his netminders, he can take solace in the fact that both Bernier and Reimer’s stock are on the rise.
Let’s face it, prior to the start of the 2013-14 season, Nonis might have been lucky to get a mid-ranked prospect or a mediocre pick for Reimer. Now, with Reimer exhibiting a measure of upside, Nonis can ask for a much deeper return for Reimers’ services—maybe a first rounder, maybe a top-six forward, maybe a top-prospect.
Time will tell which way Nonis leans— trade Reimer and Nonis may mess up the chemistry Reims and Bernier have. Hold onto Reimer and his trade value may erode. Or, does Nonis entertain the idea of trading Bernier? Probably not, but you never know.
It says here, Nonis should strike while the iron is hot. With Reimer’s trade value being at an all-time high, Nonis should scour the market, identify the best trading partner and pull the trigger on a deal. No question, if the right team is interested (New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, etc.) Nonis could potentially get an excellent prospect or top-six forward in return for Reimer.
As good as both goaltenders have been, Why wait? Why not make the deal and reap the rewards of some additional depth?
Question is, what would you do— should Reimer stay or go???