The Toronto Maple Leafs were able to avoid arbitration with defenseman Cody Franson yesterday by agreeing to a one-year, $3.3 million contract. That is one less contract to deal with now. However, a more difficult situation could be on its way.
James Reimer has an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 28. What will be interesting is the submission given to the arbitrator two days before the proceedings. For Franson, it gave his camp and the Leafs some room to compromise and they did at the last minute. For Reimer, it could get ugly.
You could say that the Leafs would have made the playoffs if it weren’t for Reimer, who was the goalie of record for many of the Leafs losses in the final stretch while Jonathan Bernier was injured. That alone will probably impact the Leafs’ submission.
Reimer will more than likely return to the Leafs as a backup to start next season. There is not many places to go anymore for him. However, he’ll be fighting for as much money as possible in arbitration. Reimer’s cap hit in his last contract was $1.8 million. He will likely want a raise.
$2 million might not sound like much in the NHL, but the Leafs have to stick to that number at the highest. With Jake Gardiner still needing a new contract and the Leafs wanting to keep a good amount of money for emergencies during the season, Reimer getting more than $2 million would hamper those efforts.
We have almost a week until Reimer’s hearing. Will he and the Leafs be able to come to terms? Or will they have to go through an ugly hearing that will only drive the sides farther apart.