Habs Lack Of Goalie Depth A Lesson To Leafs


Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens are in all sorts of trouble, down 2-0 against the Rangers and heading to New York. A big part of the reason many don’t expect the Canadiens to be able to rally, is because Carey Price is gone for the rest of the series.

The NHL is slowly moving into an age where you need two quality goaltenders and the Canadiens simply aren’t at that point. Dustin Tokarski stepped between the pipes for the Canadiens and played well, but not to the level Price had played so far these playoffs. What other choice did they have though? Peter Budaj was the next option, and he has a career .843 sv% in the playoffs, albeit in only seven games played. The next option after that would have been Devan Dubnyk, who has seemingly lost all confidence and may never play in the NHL again.

So the Habs will have to go with Tokarski and Budaj if they’re going to make it any further. They’re not alone of course, where would the Rangers be if Lundqvist had been hurt? Could Cam Talbot carry the load? If Corey Crawford was hurt, the Blackhawks would turn to rookie Antti Raanta, who has 25 career NHL games played. The Kings would be in the same spot if Jonathan Quick was injured, turning to rookie Martin Jones and his 19 NHL games worth of experience.

Suffice to say none of these teams can expect to go far if their star goalie was hurt in the first game of the playoffs.

Which begs the question, why are the Toronto Maple Leafs so set on trading James Reimer? While Jonathan Bernier was outstanding this season, and Reimer seemed to falter late, Reimer is a career .914 sv% goalie in 140 career games. If you believe Bernier is as good as his career sv% of .918 over 117 games then you must too believe that Reimer is only a step or two behind him.

While it’s true that no team in recent memory has succeeded with goalies list as 1 and 1a, Price stands as a stark reminder why carrying two capable goalies is important. Keeping Reimer would also allow a fallback for if Bernier falters, like Reimer did this year.

The argument against it is that Reimer holds trade value, and while that’s true, his value may be at an all time low.

Compounding that, Brian Elliott resigning in St. Louis, where Jake Allen will back him up, puts Ryan Miller available on the free agent front. He joins Jonas Hiller, Jaroslav Halak, Carter Hutton, Evgeni Nabokov, Tim Thomas, Martin Brodeur, Devan Dubnyk, Ray Emery, Al Montoya, Chad Johnson, Jonas Gustavsson, Thomas Greiss, Alex Stalock, Just Peters, Ilya Bryzgalov, J.S. Gigeure and others as available goalies to either be starters or backups. That’s a lot of goalies.

What’s worse, how many teams are even looking for a starting goalie, something Reimer believes he can be? The Flames, Jets, Capitals and Islanders definitely are. Buffalo and Vancouver may be looking for starters, but they also may not.

So there are maybe six starters jobs open for next year in the entire NHL. If Halak signs in New York, there’d be only five. Five to split between all those goalies.

While Miller and Hiller are likely going to sign big money contracts, the majority of those goalies can be had fairly cheap, which takes away another advantage to bringing in Reimer.

While Reimer is likely better than the majority of them, why would a team like the Winnipeg Jets be expected to give up much for Reimer, when they can sign a Bryzgalov for similar money and not lose an asset? The simple answer is, they shouldn’t.

So if Reimer isn’t bringing anything sizable back in a trade, why are the Leafs looking to move him? If they truly believe they can compete for a playoff spot next year, having a capable backup may be the key.