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.”
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).
PHILADELPHIA — Dave Bolland wants to stay in Toronto and play for the Maple Leafs. We knew that already.
We also already knew that the Maple Leafs want to keep Bolland, because he’s “the type of player (they) need.”
So why haven’t the two sides come to an agreement on a new contract for the pending unrestricted free agent center?
“It’s not that we’re not speaking to each other,” Leafs general manager Dave Nonis said Thursday afternoon. “It’s at this point we haven’t been able to find common ground for a deal. … There’s a number and term that we believe is fair, and [Bolland and his agent, Anton Thun] have a different number and different term.
“We still have time to get something done. Whether that happens or not — last year, we were in a similar situation with Tyler Bozak and he ended up signing — whether we get to that or not remains to be seen.”
And if it doesn’t happen? Does Nonis expect to have certainty on the Bolland situation by July 1, so he can go to Plan B as soon as the league-wide bidding frenzy begins?
“Your only Plan B is going to be the players you have under contract,” said Nonis. “Because you don’t know who else you can sign. … The only certainty is the players that are our own.”
Nonis also spoke briefly today about goalie James Reimer, who many expect to be traded before the start of next season.
“[A trade] is a possibility,” admitted Nonis. “The other possibility is to come here and try to start here. … I wouldn’t rule out him coming back.”
Related: Bolland, Leafs remain apart in negotiations: agent
Depending upon how you view James Reimer’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators probably seemed fitting.
Those who defend him – like, say, his agent – would probably nod their heads wistfully at his stats on the day: 36 saves, one goal allowed and another mark in the “L” column.
As a restricted free agent, the Maple Leafs have a considerable amount of control over the 26-year-old netminder’s future. Even so, Reimer told reporters including TSN’s Jonas Siegel that he couldn’t help but shake the emotional feeling that tonight might represent his final moment in a Maple Leafs uniform.
With some new faces in the organization, there might be an extra drive to remove Reimer … or maybe a chance for the still fairly new netminder to receive a clean slate. If nothing else, Reimer admits that the thought of playing somewhere else crossed his mind on Saturday.
Update: Here is video of the full (emotional) interview:
Is James Reimer going to ask the Maple Leafs to move him this summer?
Well, he’s not ready to say yet. But he did appreciate why reporters would ask.
“Let’s wait a couple of days before we talk about [the possibility of asking for a trade],” Remier said on Wednesday, per TSN. “Obviously, it’s a fair question.”
To say it’s been a tough year for Reimer would be a big understatement. After backstopping Toronto to its first playoff appearance in seven years last season, Reimer watched as the Leafs went out and acquired Jonathan Bernier from Los Angeles, then watched as the one-time goalie timeshare quickly turned into Bernier as the No. 1, and Reimer as the No. 2.
But that was just the start of things.
Toronto’s late-season collapse coincided with Bernier getting hurt and Reimer coming on in relief, which led to Randy Carlyle’s now-infamous “he was okay, you know, just okay,” remark following a 3-2 loss to Detroit, a comment that seemed to sting Reimer.
Looking ahead, though, one has to think Reimer would be a considerable target for teams looking to upgrade their goaltending this summer. A pending RFA, he’s in the last of a three-year, $5.4 million deal and is only 26 years old, posting really strong save percentages during both last regular season (.924) and opening-round playoff loss to Boston (.923).
He also got off to a tremendous start this year, going 5-0-0 in October with a .949 save percentage and one shutout.