Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer lays on the ice after getting beat on the game winning goal by Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron during overtime in Game 7 of their NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series in Boston, Monday, May 13, 2013. The Bruins won 5-4. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Goalie Nods: Reimer appears headed for his first start

News and notes from around the blue paint…

Reimer looking to bounce back

For those who don’t remember how things went down the stretch for the Leafs goaltender last season, it wasn’t pretty. With Jonathan Bernier sidelined due to a knee injury, James Reimer made five consecutive starts losing all five games in regulation. It was part of a stretch, which saw the leafs lose eight consecutive games in regulation causing them to miss the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons. The Leafs won in just two of Reimer’s final 14 appearances.  It won’t get any easier for Reimer tonight as it appears Henrik Lundqvist is set to make his second start of the season.

Elsewhere… 

Winnipeg at Los Angeles: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Martin Jones

On Bernier, Reimer and the Leafs’ crease

Tim Gleason; Jake Gardiner; Jonathan Bernier;
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It’s hard to believe that James Reimer seems primed to suit up with the Toronto Maple Leafs (and presumably back up Jonathan Bernier) next season, but that is the case.

And — as it turns out — that could be a very, very good thing.

Bernier’s often-stellar play was probably the main reason the Maple Leafs stayed in the playoff picture as long as they did in 2013-14, but the bottom line is that the 26-year-old goalie still only has 117 games of NHL experience under his belt, and fairly close to half (55) of those came last season. In fact, his previous career-high for appearances in a season was just 25.

Bernier’s career numbers — as scant as they are — indicate that he could be for real. Still, goalies are an unpredictable lot, and Reimer represents one of the most qualified backups (or even 1B goalies) you’ll come by next season.

Reimer, also 26, actually has a little bit of extra experience under his belt (140 career games played). Reimer’s career save percentage is .914, not all that far behind Bernier’s .918 mark. He even has two nice statistical seasons under his belt, (20-10-5 with a .921 save percentage in 2010-11 and 19-8-5 with a .924 save percentage in 2012-13).

While many other teams have made long-term commitments to goalies with mixed results, Bernier’s on an expiring deal and Reimer still has much to prove with just a two-year contract. Netminders probably don’t really enjoy fighting for reps and dealing with uncertain futures … but that doesn’t mean their NHL teams can’t benefit from that motivation.

Just ask Reimer, who told Sportsnet earlier this summer he believes the starting job is up for grabs.

Sportsnet: In your mind, are you Jonathan Bernier’s backup or are you coming into camp intent on winning the No. 1 job?

Reimer: Yeah, obviously the latter. I was told there’s a definite opportunity. That’s the mindset I’m coming in with, to really take advantage of the opportunity that’s been given and earn the No. 1 spot.

In other words, it might not have been the prettiest process, but the Maple Leafs might have backed into a great situation in net.

After not seeing ‘eye-to-eye’ with Carlyle, Reimer will compete for No. 1 gig

reimergetty
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Just days after a somewhat surprising re-up in Toronto, James Reimer discussed two big reasons why some figured he’d ask out of Toronto — 1) his relationship with Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle, and 2) being stuck behind Jonathan Bernier.

Reimer’s take? The first wasn’t as bad as it seemed, and the second isn’t accurate.

“I think it was blown a little out of proportion,” Reimer said of his relationship with Carlyle, per Sportsnet’s Fan 590. “Lots of people have asked me about Randy and what I think of him, and in all honesty I’ve always defended him.

“I think maybe we didn’t see eye-to-eye last year, but that has no bearing on his ability to coach or what he can do with the team. Sometimes you just don’t see eye-to-eye and that’s the way things go, but I have a lot of respect for him and I think he’s a great coach.”

The Reimer-Carlyle relationship is complex, but most point to a single event in explaining rift between the two: “Just OK”-gate.

From TSN:

In the midst of the [late-season] collapse, the goaltender and his head coach had conflicting statements following a tough loss to the Red Wings in which Reimer allowed three goals on 34 shots.

“I thought he was okay, you know, just okay,” Carlyle said post-game, to which Reimer replied: “He said just okay? I thought I was good.”

The goaltender’s agent, Ray Petkau added fuel to the fire tweeting: “As is customary in Toronto, when your team plays poor defensively game after game, you blame your goalie,” before clarifying that the tweet was not in response to Carlyle’s comments.

That incident, not surprisingly, kickstarted conversations about Reimer playing elsewhere next season and as the offseason progressed, those talks heated up. Bernier seemed entrenched as the starter, in April, Reimer told TSN asking about a trade request was a “fair question.” In late June, a report from Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos claimed the 26-year-old had indeed asked to be moved.

So, the big question — what changed over the course of a month that convinced Reimer to sign a two-year deal worth $4.6 million?

According to him, the starting job is up for grabs.

Sportsnet: In your mind, are you Jonathan Bernier’s backup or are you coming into camp intent on winning the No. 1 job?

Reimer: Yeah, obviously the latter. I was told there’s a definite opportunity. That’s the mindset I’m coming in with, to really take advantage of the opportunity that’s been given and earn the No. 1 spot.

So, really interesting situation to monitor moving forward. If Toronto was honest in its pitch to Reimer, it could be in for another season loaded with goalie controversy.

Leafs re-sign Reimer — two years, $4.6 million

DETROIT, MI - MARCH 18: James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates back to the net after a time out during the second period of the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on March 18, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Wings defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have managed to avoid arbitration with James Reimer by signing him to a two-year, $4.6 million contract, per CBC’s Elliotte Friedman.

The question now is if Reimer will stay in Toronto until the completion of that deal. Reimer’s tenure with the Maple Leafs has been something of a mixed bag. He’s been the team’s starter for various stretches over the last four seasons and was a big factor in the team making the playoffs in 2013 with his 2.46 GAA and .924 save percentage.

He’s been inconsistent though and Toronto hedged its bets when it acquired Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 2013. The idea was that Bernier would compete for the starting job against Reimer, but Reimer struggled last season and finished with a 3.29 GAA and .911 save percentage in 36 contests.

With Bernier expected to start the 2014-15 campaign as the team’s number one goaltender, Reimer reportedly requested a trade last month. Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis has since said that “by and large, what we have right now is what we’re going to start with.”

Report: Reimer requests trade from Toronto

James Reimer
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The writing has likely been on the wall for some time now, but James Reimer’s time in Toronto is likely at an end.

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reports Reimer has asked the Toronto Maple Leafs to trade him and he speculates the Leafs and Winnipeg Jets were in discussion during the NHL Draft about making a swap.

Reimer is from Morweena, Manitoba near Winnipeg and would join Ondrej Pavelec as the goaltending duo there. Al Montoya is an unrestricted free agent come July 1 and while Reimer is set to be a restricted free agent on that date, returning home to play would give him a strong chance at unseating Pavelec for the No. 1 job there.

Reimer was unseated as Maple Leafs starter last season by Jonathan Bernier. The season started with the two in competition with each other, but coach Randy Carlyle clearly sided with Bernier as his top guy.

Bernier’s performance dictated he be the man as he had a .922 save percentage in 55 games. Reimer backed him up with a .911 save percentage in 36 games. While that stat is average, it would’ve made for a marked improvement on what Pavelec did with Winnipeg as he put up a .901 mark in 57 games.

Meanwhile, the Leafs have already been spotted courting Martin Brodeur to potentially be Bernier’s new backup/mentor. Reminder: his numbers were also worse than Reimer’s last season (.901 save percentage in 39 games).