Rumor Roundup: potential Reimer suitors

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images Sport)

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ acquisition last summer of goaltender Jonathan Bernier sparked speculation over James Reimer’s future in Toronto. The conjecture resurfaced earlier this week in the wake of a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle had a tepid response to Reimer’s performance in that game, which prompted a surprised reaction from the netminder. Reimer’s agent, Ray Petkau, took to Twitter suggesting his client was unfairly blamed for the Leafs poor defensive play. Petkau followed up by saying his reaction wasn’t based on his client’s or Carlyle’s post-game comments.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston notes earlier this season Reimer felt he wasn’t receiving the same opportunity to prove himself as Bernier. Johnston believes it’s increasingly unlikely Reimer returns with the Leafs next season.

CBS Sports’ Brian Stubits cites a report from TSN’s Darren Dreger suggesting Reimer could “respectfully” request a trade this summer. The 26-year-old netminder is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, which could hasten his departure from Toronto.

James Mirtle of the Globe & Mail points out Reimer’s career save percentage (.914) tied him with Ottawa’s Craig Anderson, and puts him in the same company as Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller (.917), Detroit’s Jimmy Howard (.917) and Carolina’s Cam Ward (.910). It’s also ahead of Philadelphia’s Steve Mason and Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec. Mirtle believes Reimer’s remaining games provide rival teams in need of goaltending depth a chance to evaluate his performance.

The New York Islanders could top the list of suitors. Their current goalies – Evgeni Nabokov, Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson – have combined for the league’s worst save percentage. Nabokov is well past his prime while Poulin and Nilsson aren’t ready to inherit the starter’s role.

Calgary Flames president of hockey operations and acting GM Brian Burke could be interested. Reimer made his NHL debut during Burke’s days as Leafs GM. The Flames have relied largely on Karri Ramo, Joey MacDonald and the recently traded Reto Berra.

If the Anaheim Ducks fail to re-sign pending UFA Jonas Hiller before July they could make Reimer a trade target. He could also prove tempting to the Vancouver Canucks. While the Canucks acquired Jacob Markstrom in the recent Roberto Luongo trade, they could move him to make room for Reimer.

The Winnipeg Jets could also be an intriguing trade possibility. Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press believes Jets management must address their goalie issues before next season. Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec’s stats (2.97 GAA, .902 SP) are among this season’s worst for NHL starting goalies.

Lawless suggests Reimer (a Manitoba native) as a trade option for the Jets. It’s likely Winnipeg would have to attempt to trade Pavelec, who’s signed through 2016-17 at an annual cap hit of $3.9 million. His stats and contract make him difficult to move. If the Jets pursue Reimer a compliance buyout could be in the offing for Pavelec.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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