In part four of our continuing look at the Toronto Maple Leafs season we’ll examine the goalies. We’ll look at how each player performed this season and grade them based on how they did in regards to expectations of what they would provide coming into the season as well as player growth and development. We’re going to cover Bernier, Reimer and MacIntyre because he did see some playing time and may be a part of the future for the Leafs at the position.
Bernier was stellar this season, there’s no other way to put it. His sv% was 11th best in the league among goalies with at least 20 starts (sixth among goalies with 50 or more starts). He was 16th in wins despite a heavier split in time than most starters and playing for a non-playoff team. He finished 26-19-8 and even picked up an assist, so he outscored Colton Orr.
Bernier was asked to be the savior this season. He faced 1,787 shots, the seventh most of any goalie. All six goalies above him though played more games and averaged less than Berniers 32.5 shots against per game. That stat looks far worse when you realize that Bernier only played 45 full games, with ten where either he was pulled or filled in in relief and he still averaged over 32 shots a game.
So not only was Bernier well above the NHL average this year, he also came relatively cheap. Bernier’s got one year left at $2.9-million before becoming an RFA.
So in terms of expectations, Bernier was excellent this year. He’s still got a lot of question marks around him though. Under the sheer workload it appeared his body began to break down late in the year.
He’s also only got 117 career games under his belt. While his .923 sv% was very good, his career average is .918. Is a regression likely or is Bernier going to be able to prove that this is who he is as a starter?
Leaf fans would also be wise to remember that Reimer, who has basically been run out of town at this point, posted a better sv% last year than Bernier did this year. There’s also a very good chance that James Reimer is not a Leaf next year. If that’s the case it’s reasonable to assume that the next backup will be worse, which means more games for Bernier.
The one thing we do know for sure though is that Bernier will get the chance to answer those questions as the undisputed number one next season.
Coming off an outstanding campaign and bitter disappointment in the 2013 playoffs against Boston, Reimer was looking to prove that his .924 sv% wasn’t a fluke.
Instead of his chance to prove it, the Leafs traded for Bernier and then gave him a big raise despite having played less games than Reimer. While the original line was that both goalies would get a fair shot, Reimer got the short end of the stick in almost every situation by having a shorter leash, getting the second game in back-to-backs and generally playing the harder games.
That’s not to say that Reimer didn’t get a chance. He played 36 games for the Maple Leafs this year and for awhile seemed to still have his 2013 form.
Up to January 22nd, Reimer was 10-6-1, with an above average sv%. From that day on though Reimer finished the season 2-10. A sv% of between .913-.915 was average this season, and in those 12 starts Reimer was below that on eight occasions. 27 of the 34 goals scored on him over that period were at even strength.
His four seasons with the Maple Leafs are all over the place statistically. In his rookie year he had a .921 sv%. That dropped to .900 the next year when he battled the lingering effects of a concussion. Last year he had another great year, as his sv% shot back up to .924. This year it was .911.
After 140 career games Reimer has balanced out to a .914 sv% goalie, with a 2.85 gaa. He’s 65-48-26.
At this point it appears that Reimer is an average to above average NHL goaltender, which makes him a superior backup. Despite that, the Leafs look likely to move him.
For starters Reimer is an RFA, due a large raise on the $1.8-million per year contract he’s operated under. Knowing that Bernier will also be getting a raise sometime in the next year could take the Leafs from having a cheap yet effective goaltending tandem to having one that’s starting to look far more pricey.
Secondly, Reimer is one of the few trade chips the Leafs have. While Kadri and Gardiner have their name thrown around a lot, the truly real trade chips are Reimer, Franson and Lupul.
But why would anyone trade for a goalie who finished 12-16-2 with a .911 sv%?
While the numbers don’t look good at a glance, Reimer actually had a decent season.
That terrible section where Reimer went 2-10 and allowed 34 goals isn’t really that bad. 34 goals in 12 games is a 2.83 gaa. His sv% during that woeful fall is .909 which is slightly below average. Slightly below average when media claims that Reimer cost the Leafs their season.
His horrific record in that stretch had far more to do with a lack of goal support than poor play on his end.
He was perfect in the shootout this year, going 4-0 with a .727 sv%. To contrast that Bernier was 5-4 with a .640 sv%.
Reimer’s .923 even strength sv% is 30th in the league among goalies who played at least 20 games. He rises to 21st among goalies with 30 games played. Certainly not bad numbers for a goalie in an “off year”.
Reimer is likely to go on to have a good career. At this point management feels like that would be better accomplished elsewhere. While that’s obviously up for debate, and we’ll cover it later, for now the fact is that Reimer came into the season expected to shoulder between 25-41 games this year and he did it at a slightly below average rate for half of the season.
While he only played two games for the Leafs this season, we’re looking at him for the distinct possibility that he’ll backup Jonathan Bernier next season.
28-15-3 with the Marlies this year, the 30-year-old MacIntyre had a .917 sv% and a 2.52 gaa. Solid numbers that will take a dip if he moves to a full-time backup role with the Leafs.
The reason for bringing him in as the backup is a simple one, you won’t get anybody cheaper. He’s a UFA who cost $600-thousand last year and would be similar moving forward. Teams aren’t lining up for a goalie who will be 31 to start next season and has seen all of six games of NHL action so his options are limited.
So he’ll be incredibly cheap and likely below average in the NHL, but he’s a backup, so if you think Bernier can shoulder the load this is a great way to save some money to spend elsewhere.
The Leafs have no other goalie prospect close to ready to fill in either. Both Chris Gibson and Garret Sparks split time between the AHL and the ECHL this season. At 21 and 20 years old respectively, they could split time in the AHL between them if MacIntyre ends up being the Leafs backup.
If not, MacIntyre can clearly shoulder the load for the Marlies again.