Trading James Reimer: Not So Fast

Trading James Reimer: Not So Fast

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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.

Anthony Petrielli has been at MLHS since 2011. He is known for his weekly "Leafs Notebook" feature, and also writes specific analysis pieces. You can contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @APetrielli.

@SammySeroya If you believe the Leafs collapse had anything to do with Reimer and not their terrible system you're not paying attention.


I think you meant to put a "?" in the Islanders's backup spot as Nilsson just signed in the KHL. I'd imagine that the Isles would sell low on Josh Bailey to get an awesome tandem of their own in net. Any takers Leafs fans?


Good to see some positive note on keeping Reimer, would hate to have terrible goaltending again. Can't we enjoy it for just a bit longer? Great article Anthony


@Murph2417  Does anyone remember that Carlyle chose Mccintyre over Reimer for about 2 or 3 games down the stretch when Reimer could not do the job during Berniers injury ? That means Reimer is actiually 3rd on the depth chart .Trade Reimer for whatever you can get for him .Bring Mcintyre up to back up Bernier .


@APetrielli great article. 100% agree. Hopefully Reimer is willing to stay within reason


@thearg29 Thanks. Hoping they don't feel the need to just move on and sell him for pennies on the dollar. We're taking good G's for granted.


@DeclanK It's Like the Leafs defensive systems have been passed down to the Marlies the last two games!


Oh my god this Jays team!!!!




Fat man Navaro hits the homerun! 3-2 Jays.


Say they both had the exact same salary. Who is the better D-man? Ranger or Gleason


@Bruffins Personally I'd take Ranger. Can play PP, PK, hits like a truck and if he can get back to how he played before better upside.


@Bruffins Based on his play near the end of the season I say Ranger. Hopefully he carries that play forward and he was just finally hitting his stride after being away for so long. 

DeclanK moderator

@Bruffins @RandomScrub

Even strength points for Leaf defenceman extrapolated over 82 games (not accounting for ice time disparities). 


Stupid time zone BS. I want the Marlies game now!

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

Here's one for Canucksnaphook our new mod.

Q: What is the Native American word for vegetarian?

 A: "Poor hunter!"


@Rhaegar_ Really like that one, maybe put in granberg instead of diaz though


@TheJFish @Rhaegar_ Thanks. I like the idea of a defensive guy paired with an offensive guy. If we're keeping Gleason (and I think we should), then Diaz is a good partner for him. Shoots right. Moves the puck. Can play the PP. I also like having guys like him around who we can easily discard or demote should Granberg surprise. But he should have to beat someone for that spot, in my opinion.


@Rhaegar_  you should convert it to text and cut and paste it here so everyone can shit on it


@MaxwellHowe @Rhaegar_ lol. Okay:


James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Paul Stastny ($6.800m) / Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) 
Evander Kane ($5.250m) / Tyler Bozak ($4.200m) / Phil Kessel ($8.000m) 
Jerry D'Amigo ($0.750m) / Nazem Kadri ($2.900m) / Peter Mueller ($1.000m) 
Kyle Clifford ($1.075m) / Peter Holland ($0.850m) / David Clarkson ($5.250m) 
Jake Gardiner ($2.750m) / Dion Phaneuf ($7.000m) 
Carl Gunnarsson ($3.150m) / Morgan Rielly ($0.894m) 
Tim Gleason ($4.000m) / Raphael Diaz ($1.250m) 

T.J. Brennan ($0.700m) / Korbinian Holzer ($0.788m) 
Jonathan Bernier ($2.900m) 
Al Montoya ($0.900m) 
Mike Komisarek ($0.000m) 
Mikhail Grabovski ($0.000m) 
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(estimations for 2014-15)
SALARY CAP: $70,000,000; CAP PAYROLL: $69,906,667; BONUSES: $850,000
CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $93,333


@Loric76 @Rhaegar_ @MaxwellHowe Nothing unrealistic about it, either. I think we could get Stastny if we really wanted him. Kane is likely available, especially if we're willing to move that 8th overall pick. Could both happen in one off-season? Probably not, but maybe. 


The hell happen Hutchison? Got cranked so you lost the strike zone?


@wiski Doesn't explain why blue but an interesting bit of history none the less...

In February of 1927, Conn Smythe, who had built the New York Rangers franchise but was dismissed in favour of Lester Patrick, raised enough money to buy the St. Pats and prevented the team from moving to Philadelphia. Smythe, a military man, immediately had the Toronto franchise name changed from the St. Pats to Maple Leafs. He also switched the uniform colours to blue and white from green and white.

Although it is not known as to why he changed the name to Maple Leafs, here was Smythe's reasoning:

“The Maple Leaf to us, was the badge of courage, the badge that meant home. It was the badge that reminded us all of our exploits and the different difficulties we got into and the different accomplishments we made. It was a badge that meant more to us than any other badge that we could think of... so we chose it... hoping that the possession of this badge would mean something to the team that wore it and when they skated out on the ice with this badge on their chest... they would wear it with honour and pride and courage, the way it had been worn by the soldiers of the first Great War in the Canadian Army."