In a mostly unforeseen move, the Toronto Maple Leafs have avoided salary arbitration with James Reimer, inking the goaltender to a two-year deal, worth $4.6 million – $2.6 million this season and $2 million in 2015-2016, as per the National Post. Reimer’s agent Ray Petkau also confirmed the news via Twitter.
James Reimer has agreed to a 2 year contract with @MapleLeafs. Media availability on Monday
— Ray Petkau (@RayPetkau) July 25, 2014
Though James Reimer requested a trade after losing his starting spot to Jonathan Bernier last year, Dave Nonis has found the trade market for Reimer to be slow (read: non-existent). I guess there’s little market for a goalie with a 3.29 GAA (ranked 49th out of 51 qualifying goalies last season) or a .911 SV% (ranked 33rd).
While this contract doesn’t necessarily mean that Reimer won’t be dealt, the two-year pact may signal Reimer’s acceptance that it’s better to be a well-compensated backup goalie than to hold out for a starting job that just isn’t coming. Last season, Peter Budaj, Al Montoya, and Carter Hutton all showed that quality backups can still garner lots of minutes if they are willing to be good teammates and wait for their chance.
In the end, this is a good move for the Leafs. Reimer has been nothing less than likable as a Leaf and has demonstrated that he can get hot for long stretches (anyone remember the end of the 2012-2013 season?). Perhaps more interestingly, this deal may signal that the Leafs are more willing to spend two more years with Reimer and not his most famous detractor, head coach Randy Carlyle.