With the NHL Trade Deadline only five weeks away, it’s time to gauge the interest of players for the Toronto Maple Leafs and of course, all other teams that are planning to sell. The Maple Leafs are quite possibly the most intriguing team heading into the next 35 days. With eight players set to become unrestricted free agents, the possibility is there for the Maple Leafs to make a lot of moves.
While we look at the Leafs’ defense and forwards, today it’s all about their goalies. James Reimer have told two very different stories over the first half of the season. Because of that, what the Leafs will do with their goaltending situation is one of the most pressing questions concerning the Deadline? So let’s look at the two tenders of the twine.
Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) during the NHL game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena.
Stats: 21 Games Played, 6 Wins, .899 Save %, 3.13 Goals Against Average
Bernier looks to have finally squandered the huge chance he was given when he was acquired by the Maple Leafs. In fact, according to James Mirtle of The Globe & Mail, the Leafs have put Bernier on the trade market and looking at the interest in him around the NHL. While has played better as of late, it took him until his 12th game to record his first win and he has lost the starting job to James Reimer.
The Leafs obviously made a mistake when they signed Bernier to a two-year deal this past off-season. Now, if they want to deal him, they’ll have to find a team that has some cap space to spare as he carries a $4.15 million cap hit. That is a a lot to pay someone who will more than likely end up as a backup. Unless there is a team that still sees untapped potential in him, it will be pretty hard to find to find a suitor for him this season. It might be easier to deal him at next year’s Deadline.
(Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Stats: 23 Games Played, 8 Wins, .937 Save %, 1.97 Goals Against Average
Reimer has finally taken back the starter’s job that some say he should have never lost. While he has battled injury trouble, he has definitely played much better than the goalie that took his job. All you need as proof is to look at the save percentage statistic for the NHL. Among qualifying goalies, Reimer stands No. 1 in the category. He is also second in goals against average.
All that said, with how good Reimer has been, it does raise some questions. If the Leafs are indeed shopping Bernier, that should mean the Leafs plan on having Reimer be the starter for the foreseeable future. The thing is that Reimer is one of the eight players on the Maple Leafs that could become a UFA on July 1. He is surely going to get a raise from the $2.3 million he currently makes. Will the Leafs be able to come to terms with him before the deadline comes? Reimer has said in the past that he wants to stay in Toronto for his entire career. Perhaps that means he’d be willing to take a hometown discount.
It sure will be fun to watch in the coming weeks. Will Bernier be traded? Will the Maple Leafs get an offer they can’t refuse for Reimer? We’ll have to wait and see.