I am looking forward to seeing James Reimer, and these other nine veterans, with their new teams this season.
James Reimer made believers out of the Florida Panthers.
During his eight-game stint with the San Jose Sharks last season, having found his way to San Jose via a trade by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Reimer played lights out and earned himself a five-year, $17 million deal with the Panthers on July 1.
During his six-year stay with the Maple Leafs, it was never really clear if Reimer had the upside to be a true No. 1 NHL goalie. That, it turns out, was more about the woeful Maple Leafs than it was the goalie. In his eight games with the Sharks, a significantly better team, he was 6-2 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .938 save percentage to go with three shutouts.
Now the 28-year-old Reimer is the heir apparent to replace Roberto Luongo as the Panthers’ starter.
I am looking forward to seeing Reimer with his new team this season. I am also looking forward to seeing the following nine veterans with their new teams:
Taylor Hall, RW, New Jersey Devils: On first blush it seems the Edmonton Oilers paid way too big a price to get right-shooting defenceman Adam Larsson. Hall, after all, led the Oilers in scoring in three of the past four seasons and is a valuable addition to a team that scored a league-low 184 goals last season. There may be an adjustment period, though. While the Eastern Conference is more wide open compared to the West, the Devils think ill of goals. They put the accent on keeping them out of their net as opposed to scoring them. Hall will be fine.
Loui Eriksson, RW, Vancouver Canucks: The 31-year-old Eriksson went from being one of the NHL’s most underrated players with the Dallas Stars to the answer to the trivia question -- What loser did the Stars give up to acquire Tyler Seguin? In Chapter 3 of his NHL career, Eriksson joins the Vancouver Canucks as a Sedin Triplet and if the World Cup of Hockey was any indication, we are in for some fun. Eriksson, Henrik and Daniel were the good news amongst a whole bunch of bad news for the underachieving Swedes.
P.K. Subban, D, Nashville Predators: Run out of Montreal because he dared to smile after losses and then left off Canada’s World Cup team, Subban has lots of axes to grind. It’s going to be a challenge, however. The Predators paid a steep price to get Subban – popular captain Shea Weber. Subban is a high-risk, high-return defender so let’s just hope he’s ticked off enough to take a stab at winning another Norris Trophy.
Shea Weber, D, Montreal Canadiens: You knew he’d be next, right? Weber may have given way to Roman Josi as the Predators’ best defenceman, but he is still a star. And he’s not likely to smile after a Habs loss which should make management do cartwheels. He is one of the hardest shooters in the NHL and will give the Canadiens a new look on the blueline.
Milan Lucic, LW, Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers have been (correctly) accused of having too many cookie cutter, medium-sized, skilled forwards that have failed to find success in the rugged Western Conference. So they went out and signed Frankenstein. Lucic brings immediate respect to the lineup and will be a great protector of the team’s No. 1 asset, Connor McDavid. Screw around with McD and you’ll pay the price.
David Backes, RW, Boston Bruins: Backes is the kind of player who brings instant credibility to the Bruins. The former St. Louis Blues captain is a solid two-way performer who replaces the sandpaper that was lost when Lucic left for the Los Angeles Kings last season.
Jason Chimera, LW, New York Islanders: The Islanders acquired a couple of sharp-shooters in left winger Andrew Ladd and right-winger P.A. Parenteau, but it is the hard-working and robust Chimera who draws the most interest from me. The 37-year-old is coming off his second most productive season having scored 20 goals and 40 points for the Washington Capitals and looks like he has plenty left in the tank.
Eric Staal, C, Minnesota Wild: Staal’s decline as a high-end NHLer has been rather dramatic. Though just 31, Staal is likely on his last chance with the Wild, having been traded away by the Carolina Hurricanes, who drafted him second overall in 2003 and then failing to find any traction with the New York Rangers.
Joe Colborne, C, Colorado Avalanche: Yes, I am interested in Joe Colborne. While he may not be a household name, the 2008 first round pick of the Boston Bruins captured my fancy when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Injuries have slowed his development, but I love Colborne’s determination and commitment and believe he’ll help the Avs.