Trading James Reimer: Not So Fast

Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

One of the “logical” things that is supposed to play out in Leafland this summer is the team trading James Reimer and officially running with Jonathan Bernier as their starter.

All things considered, how logical is it really?

How many teams want Reimer?

Here is a list of every team’s goalies going into next season:

Anaheim DucksAnderson/Gibson
Boston BruinsRask/?
Buffalo SabresEnroth/Neuvirth
Calgary Flames*Ramo/?
Carolina HurricanesWard/Khudobin
Chicago BlackhawksCrawford/Raanta (RFA)
Colorado AvalancheVarlamov/Berra
Columbus Blue JacketsBobrovsky/?
Dallas StarsLehtonen/?
Detroit Red WingsHoward/Mrazek
Edmonton OilersScrivens/Fasth
Florida PanthersLuongo/Ellis
Los Angeles KingsQuick/Jones
Minnesota WildHarding/Backstrom/Kuemper
Montreal CanadiensPrice/Budaj
Nashville PredatorsRinne/?
New Jersey DevilsSchneider/?
New York IslandersHalak/Nilsson (RFA)
New York RangersLundqvist/Talbot
Ottawa SenatorsAnderson/Lehner
Philadelphia FlyersMason/?
Phoenix CoyotesSmith/?
Pittsburgh PenguinsFleury/Zatkoff
San Jose Sharks*Niemi/?
St Louis BluesElliott/Allen
Tampa Bay LightningBishop/Lindback
Toronto Maple LeafsBernier/Reimer
Vancouver Canucks*Lack/Markstrom
Washington Capitals*Holtby/?
Winnipeg Jets*Pavelec/?

I have emboldened/marked with asterisk the potential fits for Reimer based on him wanting to be a starter; otherwise, most teams seem to be at least comfortable with their starter or tandem going into next season. You could also potentially include Carolina should they manage to get rid of Cam Ward, as has been rumoured.

There is also the possibility of a team loving Reimer and wanting to bring him in as premium insurance. A team like Pittsburgh, for example, would have a much better goaltending tandem in their fold with Reimer there to back up Fleury.

For now, though, we will assume that the five teams I highlighted – Calgary, San Jose, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg— comprise the best fits for Reimer.

What we have to consider next is the UFA goalie market. There are two goalies teams would bring in as a new number one right from the get-go: Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller. Beyond those two, there are a host of 1A/1B-type goalies on the market including:

  1. Ilya Bryzgalov
  2. Ray Emery
  3. Tim Thomas
  4. Alex Stalock
  5. Thomas Greiss
  6. Justin Peters
  7. Chad Johnson
  8. Al Montoya

To say nothing of a few veterans that have been around the league for a while that should garner interest – Martin Brodeur, Evgeny Nabokov, and maybe even Jonas Gustavsson. There’s also various goalies in the AHL on whom a team might take a cheap flyer instead, such as the Marlies’ Drew McIntyre.

That’s a lot of goalies potentially hitting the market for roughly 12 available goaltending openings.

So, let’s first off set the record straight on the limited number of teams interested in Reimer. It will be hard to create a market for him, and there’s a real possibility nobody will bang Nonis’ door down for him, meaning the Leafs could be forcefully selling him off versus taking the best deal and making their team better via trade.

Setting the Market Price

When the Maple Leafs acquired Bernier, I amassed a list of comparable young goalie trades which included:

  • Tampa acquired 24-year-old Anders Lindback, Kyle Wilson and a 7th for Sebastien Garon, two 2nd round picks and a 3rd.
  • Tampa acquired Ben Bishop for Cory Conacher and a 4th.
  • Colorado acquired 23-year-old Semyon Varlamov for the 11th overall pick and a conditional second round pick.
  • St. Louis acquired 25-year-old Jaroslav Halak for first round prospect Lars Eller and third round prospect Ian Schultz.

We can now add:

  • Leafs acquired 24 year old Bernier for Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens, and a 2nd.
  • Edmonton acquired 27 year old Ben Scrivens for a 3rd.

The returns for a goalie, obviously, are not formidable. If the Leafs are moving Reimer straight up, it is safe to assume they would get maybe a draft pick (in the round 2-4 range) and a depth player. Either that, or he’s a piece in a bigger deal to bring in a big name to the Leafs.

And it’s worth noting in any potential Reimer trade talk that he doesn’t have the pedigree of some of those other goalies who moved. Bernier was drafted in the first round and had a label as one of the best goalie prospects in the league, especially after throwing up a .936sv% in 58 AHL games one season. Jaro Halak carried the Habs on a magical playoff run. Ben Bishop is 6’7 and had the best SV% in the AHL one season at .928%. Pretty well all of those goalies were sold at a high-value point, too (not so much Bernier, but he was great for the Kings when Quick got hurt for anyone paying attention). Reimer has been consistently good, and was great when the Leafs made the playoffs, but the collapse always seems to cast a shadow on a series (and season) in which he faced nearly 40 shots per night. Come the New Year, Reimer had completely fallen out of favour and then struggled in his opportunity when Bernier got hurt. He has a career .914sv% and has had some injury problems.

They aren’t cashing in a winning lottery ticket here.

Is Bernier a full-fledged starter?

It shouldn’t need to be said, but Bernier isn’t exactly Henrik Lundqvist right now. He has played 117 games and started a career-high 55 games last season… Not coincidentally, he got hurt and missed time under the enhanced workload.

You can make the case that Bernier can be a starter from here on out, and that he is a great goalie, but that will all be on a hunch. The bottom line is that he has not played long enough and proven it. Here are his games played totals over his last four seasons since breaking into the NHL:

SeasonGP% of Season

That’s not enough to say, without question or hesitation, Bernier is a starter capable of playing a minimum of 55-60 games without fail. If he repeats his play of last season in 2014-15, we can begin to feel confident and comfortable with his ability give the Leafs 55-60 games every season.

Reimer and Bernier were both born in 1988 and their NHL career stat lines are as follows:

GoalieTotal GPRecordGAASV%
James Reimer14065-48-152.850.914
Jonathan Bernier11755-39-132.510.918

Essentially, Bernier is now at the stage where Reimer was last summer in terms of games played.

Until Reimer’s strong play in 2013, and Bernier’s last season, this organization was getting bad goaltending dating back to 2006. It would be quite something for them to now trade away a good goalie who is still young for a pick based on 55 good games from another good young goalie who is still very much in the process of establishing himself.

This summer, Reimer is an RFA and will need to be qualified at $1.6M. If he was signed to that number, the Leafs would be paying their goalies a combined $4.5M next season, which is less than at least 10 starters in the league make alone. They would be getting some of the best bang for their buck at that position in the league even if Reimer made a little more than $1.6M.

It is one thing if Nonis needs to include Reimer in a bigger deal to bring in a big name. But trading Reimer for a draft pick just doesn’t seem logical. Some will say Reimer can’t get along with Carlyle, or that he won’t want to be the backup, or that if they keep Reimer and don’t play him that much they will ruin his value completely and trade him for nothing; the reality is that, with so many holes on their roster, the last thing Leafs management should be doing is spending time trading Reimer for a pick they won’t see until at least three years from now and then diving into the UFA goalie market.

If we look at the chart of goalie tandems listed above, Bernier-Reimer is unquestionably one of the best ones there. Unless moving Reimer helps to bring in a desperately needed C or D upgrade, it is time for the Leafs to focus on upgrading those two positions however else they can while running this tandem again. That way goaltending truly is the least of the Leafs’ worries.

  • Rhaegar_

    Those are some pretty bad secondary options in the free agent market. 

    I think you could also add Minnesota to the emboldened category. Backstrom is old and may not be the same after a series of serious injuries, and of course, Harding has M.S. and his health isn’t likely to improve. If they don’t bring back Bryzgalov, it could easily be Kuemper starting before the end of October.

  • Jordan29

    I like your break down. A 2nd round pick is what fair value is. From someone like Calgary who got a 2nd for Berra. With the way last year ended I don’t think anyone can say it’s a good idea to have him back. If Bernier is not the guy then look elsewhere

  • mcloki

    Well argued AP. Maybe this will douse a bit of cold water on the trade speculation around here. OH, who am I kidding. It’ll be as dumb as ever. I’m sure they will be talking about trading Finn today.

  • coachnye

    Good points there Anthony-I am in agreement in NOT trading Reimer. This can will work for the two goalies just the Coach needs to communicate better with them!

  • Burtonboy

    I would try to get him re-signed but I’m not sure I would qualify him. Might be better to convince him to sign another 1 yr deal similar to what he has right now . Gonna be a tough decision for James as I don’t see him being picked up to fill a starting role . The market simply isn’t there .

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Rhaegar_ I think they really like Kuemper  though. On Capgeek they wouldn’t let me buyout Backstrom so I assume that’s because of his NTC and because of that I’m guessing they buyout Harding and run with Backstrom-Kuemper.

  • Anthony Petrielli

    coachnye Was working fine until the DET game in December when Carlyle yanked him at 3-1, Reimer stared him down on the bench and Carlyle decided he was done with the guy.

  • Jordan29

    The Wild is always an option if they don’t spend money on UFA. Backstrom could easily be there compliance BO

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Jordan29 Wont let you compliance buyout him

  • JaredOfLondon

    APetrielli oh god, why did I read the comments

  • APetrielli

    JaredOfLondon Haha. The funny thing is that tweets like this responding to the article link automatically embed into the comments :)

  • Jordan29

    Cool I was not aware. Thanks

  • JaredOfLondon

    APetrielli I just saw and burst out laughing

  • mlse

    APetrielli gee there’s not much of a market and the return will be crap. Wonder who was saying that 10 months ago amidst loud dissension?

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Jordan29 Was going through each team’s goalies and noticed it last night. Guess it’s because of his NTC. 

    Bet they buyout Harding and run with Backstrom-Kuemper.

  • APetrielli

    mlse Probable only value trade wise is part of a package to a team like Vancouver to bring in Edler (for example). Otherwise…

  • Great Dane

    @APetrielli  Well AP – this summer is going to be interesting indeed.

    Carlyles performance last season completely undermined the Leaf ability to progress. Keeping Carlyle makes this off-season that much important and I can’t really see a way of of this mess without breaking on the core of the team.
    So what are Shanahan and Nonis going to do!!!!!!

  • traNsplantEdneWfie

    Now that we’ve made Reimer feel second rate, he may actually be happy as a backup.

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Burtonboy Losing the starting spot to Scrivens in the World Championships did him and the Leafs no favours.

  • mlse

    APetrielli yeah, barring a lonshot it’ll be just like the dozens of comparables that the angry people ignored

  • Great Dane

    traNsplantEdneWfie In pro sport like in any other company – when the management starts (pardon my French) to piss off the employees there is usually no way back.

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Great Dane Stagnated development… Even Leafs management got fed up and was sending guys down to take them away from him.

  • PunchyBlue

    APetrielli I wonder if you can use him to dump a contract a la Lombardi deal. Reimer and Gleason for…

  • APetrielli

    mlse Ended up trading a high 2nd rounder too. Would be hard to even recoup that at this point.

  • Mind Bomb

    Morning Anthony, what do you think the odds of Reimer forcing Arbitration ?

  • Great Dane

    Anthony Petrielli Absolutely horrible – IMO Carlyle is a puppet on a string from now on.

    But where is the door out. Resigning Bolland to 5 million – don’t think so.  Bozak and Kadri can’t be on the same team as should be playing in the same slot.  Clarkson is worth absolutely nothing.

    So what is next ??????? The only light I see is that at number of Marlies should be allowed to make the jump to the Leafs. But how can they do that while Carlyle is still there.

  • APetrielli

    PunchyBlue Not a bad idea, but I think they’ll be in tough to trade Gleason without retaining salary. Still think he gets bought out.

  • mlse

    APetrielli don’t worry, Leafs management knows what they’re doing. They’ll probably get a first for him

  • Russ4king

    APetrielli PunchyBlue Why would you buy out Gleason? He was serviceable as a bottom pairing Dman and added much needed character.

  • Mcost61

    Mark Fraser not doing so well in Edm. either.

  • Mind Bomb

    @mlse APetrielli More optimistic words, have never been spoken :)

  • APetrielli

    Russ4king PunchyBlue $4M is too much for the role, especially if they want to add to the top of their roster. LD= Gardiner, Gunnar, Rielly

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Mind Bomb Probably will, but I think he’ll take note of the trade market when I assume the Leafs try to trade him and they don’t get much offered back. Think he should be more concerned about getting starts and upping his value right now vs. making a few extra bucks.

  • Mind Bomb

    Anthony Petrielli Mind Bomb It makes sense, but Pissed off people, do crazy things, I James is not a happy guy right now, I mean he is not over the top mad, just Ok .

  • Russ4king

    APetrielli PunchyBlue 4m is a lot, but 1.3m cap hit for the next 4 years is a waste. Better off to see how he plays this year and decide.

  • Russ4king

    APetrielli PunchyBlue Rielly and Gardiner played well together last year with Rielly moving to RD. I expect the same this year.

  • Russ4king

    APetrielli PunchyBlue Despite all the fan chatter, I don’t think Leafs will be that active in offseason.

  • APetrielli

    Russ4king PunchyBlue If they find a top pairing D-man then ya, but if they cant then Gardiner has to play with Dion. Cant be Gunnar again.

  • Russ4king

    APetrielli PunchyBlue I don’t see Nonis giving up the assets required for a top pairing Dman. He’s too conservative.

  • Russ4king

    APetrielli PunchyBlue agree I’d like to see Gunnar moved down to 3-4 but Gards looked awful as RD. Rielly more apt for it See him and Dion

  • peterbleafs

    Mcost61 He was and is an AHL guy who over achieved for a short period of time.  But who knows if that head injury, hampered his abilities to perform.  But NHL players come and go every year.

  • Great Dane
    Elliott’s 30 : 25 and 26 on the Leafs.
    Since Shanahan made his media round there has again been a complete media black out from the Leafs. Elliott’s comments is basically the same type of observations that we make here.

  • APetrielli

    Russ4king PunchyBlue Think you have that confused… Dion plays RD so he’ll need a LD partner. But yes Rielly>Gardiner on RD.

  • peterbleafs

    Mind Bomb Anthony Petrielli He has only himself to blame,, he was just average in the World Cup, Scrivens outplayed him.

  • Burtonboy

    peterbleafs Mcost61 The game has passed this type of player by . If you can’t skate you have little chance of playing in this league any more

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Zero reason to trade him.  Check your ego at the door James and be a part of something bigger.

    Also, you never know when you will get your chance again….

  • mr_hanie

    peterbleafs Mind Bomb Anthony Petrielli Scrivens was poor in the final game.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    CanuckUKinToronto Would Drew Mac be a better backup vs. Reimer?

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook CanuckUKinToronto If Reimer is willing to accept a back up role ( which i doubt ) he would be far superior then Uncle Drew IMO

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Burtonboy TheCanucksnaphook CanuckUKinToronto I agree.  Reimer has proven he can play at the NHL level.
    However when working in a salary cap world, is it even feasible?