James Reimer and the Toronto Maple Leafs are in an interesting position.
Reimer was the first goaltender to help the Leafs make the playoffs since Ed Belfour did it all the way back in 2004. That got him a lot of love from the city of Toronto, even though fans were eventually disappointed after the first round. However, Reimer was riding high and looked like he had finally locked up the starting role in Toronto.
Then the Maple Leafs traded for Jonathan Bernier.
That trade brought Reimer back to square one. After a month or two of splitting games, Bernier really took over as the Leafs starter and Reimer was once again relegated to backup duty. Not only that, but Reimer struggled while Bernier was out with an injury late in the season.
Now, with the 2014 NHL Draft and free agency looming, there is a big question as to whether Reimer will be back with the Maple Leafs next season. He is a restricted free agent so he needs a new contract, but should the Leafs offer him one. Should they trade him?
Reimer, like all goalies, wants to be a starter. However, there are very few NHL teams that are looking for starting goalies. The most Reimer would get is a chance to fight for the starting role.
What about the return for the Leafs? Right now, it wouldn’t be so good unless he was part of a package deal. If they just trade Reimer, they would probably get a second- or third-round pick in return. Had the Leafs traded him last off-season after the acquisition of Bernier, the return would have been much better.
Reimer needs to reestablish himself. If he were willing to take a small pay cut, I would re-sign him and see if he could work it out, but it’s more likely that Reimer wants out so he can get the best chance to start.