The TLN Roundtable is back! Every week, we’ll pose a Leafs-related question to our writers, gather the various opinions, post the answers, and create internal tension and hatred amongst us. Then you, the reader, get to tell us how wrong we all are in the comments!
This week’s question…
Incumbent goaltender James Reimer and newcomer Jonathan Bernier are both playing wicked good. Can a platoon system work for the rest of the year? Can it work beyond this year? And if not, who goes?
Ryan Fancey – @rfan_3
I think there’s little doubt that a platoon system can work for the rest of this year, but beyond that I’m not so sure.
The answer to "who goes?" always seems to be Reimer, and you can see why most people would say that. First off, his contract ends after this season, making him a restricted free agent, and there’s a sense that Leafs management already view Bernier as the number one guy anyway. But I’m not convinced yet that Reimer has to go. If he noticeably outplays Bernier for the rest of the season, the Leafs could lock him up long term and still dangle Bernier with a year remaining on his deal, which will be attractive to teams looking to solidify their goaltending.
If both guys post similar numbers from here on, I think they’ll stick with Bernier. Unloading Reimer as a restricted free agent doesn’t sound like it would do much to maximize the return, but the Kings did the same this past summer and got a decent haul, so I’m not too worried about that.
The Leafs should be able to manage both goaltenders well for the rest of this season. I think where it goes from there is tough to predict, even though the easy answer seems to be that Reimer will be the guy shipped out.
Steve Dangle – @Steve_Dangle
If I’m a betting man, and I’m not because I have no money, I’d say the Leafs are looking to deal Reimer. My ideal though? Keep the Reimer-Bernier tandem together.
Seriously, I’d rather Reimer get more starts than he’s getting, but goaltending is the biggest reason the Leafs are winning games. Bernier has a sparkling .939 save percentage, and Reimer has a .942 save percentage. As of Thursday, the Leafs are one of just seven teams in the league that have allowed fewer than 50 goals. After years of Raycroft, Toskala, Gustavsson, and so on, what more can you ask for?
If the Leafs trade Reimer, it better be for a king’s ransom. Until that day comes, I’ll be thrilled if they’re able to re-sign him and keep arguably the league’s best tandem together.
Justin Fisher – @thejustinfisher
I’m of the opinion that the Leafs have won a lot of games this season because of goaltending, and that having two good goaltenders is better than having one. To me, it’s a no brainer to keep both Reimer and Bernier around past the trade deadline, and for the remainder of the season.
After that, Reimer should be moved. I don’t really believe that Jonathan Bernier is a significantly worse goaltender if he’s playing 60 games a season as opposed to 40, and with an adequate backup, I don’t think the Leafs hurt all that much without Reimer. Like the Leafs front office and the mainstream media, I see Bernier as Toronto’s goaltender of the future.
There’s plenty of holes to fill in the Leafs organization – up the middle, on the backend, and in the prospect pool. Trading Reimer should provide some relief in one or two of those areas, and it should not mean a huge sacrifice between the pipes.