— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) June 29, 2014
Dave Nonis just a few days ago said, “there’s a very good possibility James Reimer is back next year,” but that appears to have been posturing as the Maple Leafs look to find a new home for the restricted free agent. The Maple Leafs were admitting interest in Martin Brodeur at the same time, so clearly they knew Reimer wouldn’t be back.
Many assumed this was in the offing before the season even began when Tim Leiweke called Reimer “the guy we inherited” after the MLSE Pres reportedly pushed for the Bernier trade, and it was well on its way when Reimer gave Randy Carlyle a look that could kill just before Christmas after getting pulled against Detroit. Then, it became a certain eventuality after a crucial March loss to the Red Wings, when Randy Carlyle made his infamous “just OK” assessment of Reimer’s play.
Considering the above treatment following Reimer’s play in the lockout-shortened year, there’s really no blaming Reimer for wanting to move on. Reimer certainly was hard done by this season, and once again wasn’t helped by bad injury luck. Just as it looked like he was going to seize the moment in a big win against LA after Bernier left the game with an injury, he took a nasty knock to the head again; the losses piled up and his season’s numbers plummeted in the starts following.
Reimer post-Gionta hit (concussion) 11/12: 0.876 SV% Reimer post-Stoll hit ('bell rung") 13/14: 0.871 SV% pic.twitter.com/jds0rYhUE8
— Jeff Veillette (@Jeffler) March 24, 2014
With Nikolai Kulemin likely to walk (and probably sign in Pittsburgh), Reimer likely to be traded and Gunnarsson moved yesterday, this means the Leafs will have zero players remaining from the group present upon Brian Burke’s arrival.
His hometown Winnipeg Jets have long been rumoured to be Reimer’s next destination since Jonathan Bernier took over the starter’s job. Now we will see what Dave Nonis can salvage out of this. Goalies with question marks don’t move for much, let alone ones without a contract who have requested a trade. A good haul given the circumstances is likely a mid level pick and prospect.
If the promise of Bernier’s first season does bear out and he’s the starter of the future, the Leafs will take the return and won’t lose much sleep over this down the road. But it certainly feels like a waste right now.