The ink is still drying on James Reimer’s new two-year contract with Toronto, but the betting is Reimer won’t be a Maple Leaf in two years.
The two sides avoided an arbitration hearing Friday by agreeing to a two-year deal that will pay Reimer $2.3 million annually. That’s probably fair market value for the 26-year-old native of Winnipeg who had a cap hit of $1.8 million each of the past three seasons. The question remains, however, $2.3 million is a steep price tag for a position expected to be backup for Jonathan Bernier. It’s not a bad salary, however, for any team out there who partway through 2014-15 decides it’s not happy with its goaltending. Did we mention Reimer is a native of Winnipeg?
Reimer has had decent statistics each of the past four seasons, playing between 33 and 37 games. He’s had trouble firmly entrenching himself as Toronto’s No. 1 man, although to be fair he played 36 of 48 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 and the Maple Leafs made the playoffs. But when Toronto acquired rising star Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 2013, the writing was on the wall that Reimer was being relegated to backup duties.
Partly due to his status as a restricted free agent this summer, and a glut of proven unrestricted free agent goalies on the market, Reimer didn’t generate a lot of interest as a No. 1 goalie this month.
Today’s agreement on a two-year contract is a good deal for both Reimer and the Leafs. Toronto gets to keep an asset, rather than walk away from a potentially unsavory arbitration ruling. And Reimer gets an opportunity to climb back on board his rising star and prove himself in a familiar setting.
And most of all, Reimer has a contract that can be moved on short notice should a contending team sustain an injury to its No. 1 man. Or, if Ondrej Pavalec continues to flounder in Winnipeg, did we mention Reimer is from that area?
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN