The Toronto Maple Leafs have some very crucial choices coming up in the near future. They are a franchise on the rebuild that is aiming to ship out players and acquire prospects and draft picks that will help them build a new core of the future. Many names have already been thrown around as trade bait including Roman Polak, Michael Grabner and P.A. Parenteau.
There is, however, one player who is warranting some serious debate. That would be goaltender, James Reimer. The 27-year-old native of Morweena, Manitoba has been a Maple Leafs for his entire NHL career. He now faces a crossroad of sorts. Let’s dive into possible scenarios and exactly what may happen.
Scenario #1: Reimer Moves at the Trade Deadline
This situation makes a lot of sense if you give it some thought. Reimer’s value is incredibly high right now. The former fourth rounder has taken the Leafs number one job in net and run with it. He has been great when healthy and has responded to the workload by throwing up a .934 save percentage over 21 appearances. That mark is also good for second in the league.
Did You Know? #Leafs James Reimer ranks 2nd in the NHL with a .934 SV% among qualified goalies.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 19, 2016
Reimer is definitely due for a substantial raise as he is only making $2.3-million this year. Trading him would bring up a couple more questions however. Where would be be traded and what would the Maple Leafs get in return? Possibly the biggest question would be figuring out what the Leafs would do with their remaining goaltenders in Jonathan Bernier, who experienced a very rough start, and Garret Sparks, himself only a rookie.
Scenario #2: Keep and Re-Sign Reimer
Reimer has been a Maple Leafs for a long time. He was drafted by the organization way back in 2006. He started seeing regular goaltending duties in 2010-11 and has run with it ever since. Reimer is a Maple Leaf through and through. Management may see that and decide to re-sign him.
This presents a couple interesting options. The main thing on Reimer’s mind would be term on his contract. All players want stability and Reimer would be no different. This would also impact Jonathan Bernier, who has a year left on his deal after this season is complete.
Reimer probably deserves somewhere in the $4 million dollar range for his next contract. It will be tough to give him the money he wants especially with Bernier sitting just above that. Health may also be an issue. Reimer has battled injuries this season and throughout his career. If the Leafs are convinced he can be the lead guy and give them 60 or so games, he could be worth the risk.
It’s also worth noting that Mike Babcock and company want the team to be composed of hard workers, players who compete and good human beings. If there’s one player that fits that mould, it might just be James Reimer. He has remained positive, is a great presence in the dressing room and is continually trying to get better.
Scenario #3: Reimer Leaves in Free Agency
This may be a scenario for a few months into the future, but I wanted to briefly gloss over it just in case. If the Buds don’t end up trading Reimer or re-signing him, there is a very real possibility that he moves to another team via free agency. Reimer could make a solid case for himself on a team that could use a number one goalie.
Maybe it’s a money thing. Cam Talbot, the Edmonton Oilers goalie, just got a nice new contract for three years and $4.167-million annually. Reimer was drafted by Toronto and is invested in this city, but free agency is a funny thing to experience. You never know exactly what could happen or what offers could fly your way.
The Maple Leafs find themselves in an interesting situation as the days tick by. Sooner or later a decision will need to be made. Let’s hope for the Leafs sake that they evaluate all possible options and come to the correct conclusion for the franchise as a whole.