Let the speculation begin!
In case you missed it, the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to dominant hockey headlines this week by re-signing goaltender James Reimer.
Reimer and the Leafs avoided arbitration by coming to terms on a two-year deal worth $4.6 million. He’ll earn $2.6 million next season and $2 million in 2015-2016, which makes him a somewhat attractive commodity for other teams should the Leafs opt to trade Reimer at some point.
The deal has an annual cap hit of $2.3 million.
Although relegated to the backup role these days, Reimer’s proven himself as a bankable starting goaltender in the past. In fact, it was only last spring before the start of the playoffs that he was the main engine behind Toronto’s short-lived playoff berth. He stole games for the Leafs despite the team getting heavily outshot by opponents right up until that fateful night in Boston when an entire nation cried in disbelief.
(I mean Leafs Nation, of course.)
We’ve heard from James Mirtle that neither Cody Franson nor Reimer figure into the team’s long-term plans, but both players have now received new contracts with pay raises from the Leafs to avoid arbitration.
This lends credence to the idea Toronto views Franson and Reimer as short-term pieces on the club. Franson carries a lot of market value as a points producing and hit delivering defenceman while Reimer carries some market value as a salvage project.
There is one key difference in Reimer’s situation, however. The man who beat him out for the top job in Toronto – Jonathan Bernier – will hit the market in 2015-2016 as a restricted free agent so there might be more to the story here.
Are the Leafs keeping Reimer as a temporary backup, hoping to eventually land someone with more experience to play behind Bernier?
This is one scenario.
It may also be the case they want to recreate the competitive atmosphere that drove both Bernier and Reimer to excel at the beginning of last season before Randy Carlyle effectively threw Reimer under the bus.
If this is the case, it might say more about Carlyle’s future with the team than Reimer’s future.
There’s also the unlikely possibility that Bernier could be the guy on the market, but I doubt this.
No hockey? Who cares! There’s still plenty of Leafs drama to enjoy.
What do you think?