The Maple Leafs and James Reimer have followed the league-wide theme of arbitration avoidance by arriving at a 2-year contract agreement worth $2.3 million per season.
It’s difficult to know how much praise is deserved for signing good-value RFA deals because the leverage is so tilted in favour of the club, but this is another cap-friendly deal for the Leafs and it seems to comes in for less than Reimer would’ve been awarded in arbitration.
Reimer and Bernier will be earning a combined $5.2 million last season and that’s excellent value for a tandem that stands among the best in the League. Bernier will be an RFA at the end of the 2014-15 season, Reimer a UFA at the end of the 2015-16 season.
“It gives James a little bit of security + shows we still believe he is a goaltender that can continue to improve. He never said: ‘Get me out of here,’ said Nonis. What he did ask was for us to explore opportunities …. We did. I went back to him+said: ‘I don’t have something that I would feel comfortable doing+we prefer to sign you.We both felt (Reimer) coming back was good for us+for him. He wouldn’t have signed…if he didn’t feel comfortable.
We’re not sure if Reimer actually formally submitted a trade request, but it’s pretty clear there is no situation in the League where the Leafs can move Reimer to and have him guaranteed more opportunity than he will receive in Toronto. For now, he’ll need to show up to the camp ready to battle Jonathan Bernier for starts. If he remains second fiddle, injuries or underperformance will probably create an opening somewhere at some point throughout the season. This is a very trade-friendly contract if Reimer performs when he gets his opportunities this year, especially with the extra year of term tagged on at a good price.
Even better, it’d be great if Reimer and Bernier fought tooth and nail for starts in Toronto and gave them the type of goaltending the Leafs were getting in the earlier parts of the 2013-14 season.
As Anthony Petrielli explored earlier in the off-season in an article entitled “Trading James Reimer – Not So Fast,” this is probably the best thing for the organization for the time being in terms of hedging their bets and ensuring good goaltending again next season. His first season was nothing short of superlative, but Jonathan Bernier has some work left to do to prove he’s a year-in, year-out heavy lifter in net.
Jonathan Bernier’s past workload
% of Season
Reimer has had two 30+ game seasons where he’s posted a save percentage of .920 or above, with two seasons (2011-12 – .900; 2013-14 – .911) mixed in where his play has fallen off; in both cases there were head injuries precipitating the drop off.
Reim time isn’t over yet in Toronto yet, from the looks of things. Give ‘em hell, Optimus.