James Reimer is participating in his swan song as a Toronto Maple Leaf. While Reimer and Jonathan Bernier should continue to form a strong tandem for as long as the Leafs need them to, the fact is that Reimer won’t be a Leaf past the 2013-14 season.
While the Leafs continue to say that they brought Bernier in to share time with James Reimer, Bernier came to Toronto knowing that he was good enough to be the Leafs’ everyday starter. Eventually, he will be what he believes he should be.
Reimer has had a run of bad luck as a Leaf. In his first season, he was only brought up halfway through the season and won the starting job away from Jonas Gustavsson and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. His next season was shortened due to a headshot received from Montreal’s Brian Gionta before coming back and getting injured again. Of course, half of last season was wiped out by the NHL lockout.
So in three years with the Leafs, he has never had a full-season shot at being the starting goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the arrival of Bernier, it was assured he would not get that this season. As Reimer has the confidence that he is a capable NHL starter, he will want that shot again, whether it’s with the Leafs or not.
As Reimer’s contract is up after this season, he will have the opportunity to look for that job anywhere. That is why the Leafs should look into opportunities to trade him. There are at least a few NHL teams that are or will be looking into the possibility of acquiring a starting goaltender. Edmonton, Calgary and Philadelphia are examples.
The Leafs will want a good return for Reimer which is why the more performances he has like last night, the better the chances of getting that return. If he does, with the Leafs cap situation, it might not be out of the realm of possibility that they ask for a first-round pick. That is, only if he plays like he is an everyday starter.
If the Leafs let him reach free agency, Reimer will leave for greener pastures. It would be better if the Leafs can get something for him while they still can.
It will be sad to see him go, as he’s worked his tail off for the Maple Leafs, but it’s only a matter of time before he plays his last game wearing the Blue & White.