Toronto Maple Leafs: James Reimer Should Be Traded

Nov 17, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer (34) watches the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer (34) watches the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Toronto Maple Leafs’ lack of talent catching up to them, it is time to sell high on James Reimer.

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Toronto Maple Leafs fans have been scraping the bottom of the barrel in search of any possible silver lining this season. There have been a few main talking points to discuss at the water cooler.

We have all heard the glass half-full approach to this season, praising the “structure” that is finally in place. The glorification of Nazem Kadri‘s evolution into a complete hockey player has become a recurring theme. And perhaps the most extraordinary moment in the Leafs season is the introduction of Babsocks.

In all seriousness, the goaltending carousal in the Leafs crease has been the main highlight, with four different players lining between the pipes in the first half of the season. However this year has been different for one of them.

James Reimer is playing like a number one goalie, giving his team a chance to win every single time he laces them up. Statistically, he is doing his job better than any other Leafs goalie in the last fifteen years.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Nov 2, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer (34) during a break in the action against the Dallas Stars at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Dallas 4-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

If you erase the recent 5-1 drubbing against the Florida Panthers, Reimer leads the league in save percentage (SV%) and goals against average (GAA). Even after taking a big hit to his statistics, he sits second in the NHL with a .932 SV% and his 2.10 GAA was good for seventh at the All-Star break.

Optimus Reim is crushing his career averages right now. His .913 SV% from the 2010/11 to 2014/15 seasons is slightly below the league average during that span, which is .914 SV%. Statistically, he has been an average goalie over the course of his career.

Even in his best season (albeit a shortened one), when he helped the Leafs make the playoffs, he put up a .923 SV% — inferior to what he has done this year. The fact he is putting up these numbers with a team tied for last in the NHL, and has a defensive core headlined by a castoff in Matt Hunwick and a 21-year-old Morgan Rielly, is remarkable.

However, while Reimer is playing like a number one goalie, that doesn’t mean he is one. It’s time to trade him. The likelihood he can maintain this pace for the next five seasons, when the Leafs actually need him, is more than a stretch. It’s unrealistic.

The point of a rebuild is to piece together a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup every year. It is obvious the Leafs are more than a few years away from reaching the status the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Los Angeles Kings already have.

Reimer is not the goalie he has been playing like in 24 games this year. He is on a hot streak and having a career year.

Why not trade him while his value is at its peak for more assets that contribute to the rebuild?

Taking a look around the league, the Calgary Flames make the most sense in having a desire for Reimer’s services. Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller have failed to accomplish anything, and the Flames could use a boost in goal to get back on track this season and beyond, as they haven’t had anyone settle in goal since Miikka Kiprusoff retired.

Reimer is on the verge of hitting the open market, and if he continues his impressive play will be due for a raise. Calgary makes sense for Reimer geographically, jumping across to the other side of his home in Morweena, Manitoba. With Ramo and Hiller’s contracts both coming off the books at seasons end, there will be plenty of money available for the Flames to lock him up long term.

The trade makes sense for Calgary, because they are desperate to find some consistency between the pipes. They also have a certain young defenceman who is under performing this season. Once upon a time Leafs fans were irate that the draft pick used to select him was in the hands of the Boston Bruins.

Dougie Hamilton goes full circle and ends up in a Leafs uniform, going on to win multiple Norris trophies and Stanley Cups. 

This future headline would be the best case scenario, and if it happens we will come back to this. Realistically, Dougie Hamilton would be a fantastic addition to a team craving young D-men.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Dec 8, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton (27) controls the puck as San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) defends during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

A trio of Hamilton, Reilly, and Gardiner to build on over the next several years sounds terrific. The 22-year-old has been living in the shadow of Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman, and Kris Russell out west.

Hamilton signed a six-year deal last offseason. The move makes sense for both teams, with Toronto looking to build a foundation and Calgary hungry to get back to the playoffs after last years theatrics.

The Toronto-native has 19 points in 48 games this season, and could be a candidate for Calgary to trade from an area of strength to improve their weak goaltending. For the Leafs, Hamilton’s minuscule offensive output this year makes him a buy-low option.

There was no chance at this time last season we could even entertain the idea of a Reimer and Hamilton swap. However, while Reimer has been a fan favourite over the course of six seasons for the Leafs, a trade now makes sense.

Next: TOT podcast: Looking at the Marlies and Leafs prospects

Do you think this trade sounds crazy, or makes sense? Let me know in the comments section below.