With the trade deadline four weeks from today, everyone knows that the Leafs are in full-on sell mode. Toronto has a large number of pending free agents and a desire to accumulate as many draft picks for Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas as possible. From now until February 29, we are going to take a look at some potential destinations for players that could be traded.
James Reimer is an interesting case. He is a fan favorite that when healthy this season has outplayed Bernier by a significant margin. Many in Leafs Nation feel he should be the goalie of the future and feel he has proven himself enough to deserve a long-term contract. The health issues though can’t be overlooked, though. The best goalies in the world become significantly less valuable when they can’t carry the workload of an NHL starter and, as good as he’s been, Reimer has not proven the capability to play a full season.
With his contract up at the end of the season and his play at an all-time high, it’s as good a time as any to be shopping the Reimer. There are likely more than a few teams that have playoff aspirations that could use some help in net, so here are the five potential destinations for James Reimer…
San Jose Sharks
Having trading a first round pick to acquire Martin Jones during the summer, the Sharks would likely be loath to give up more assets for another goalie. After looking like it might be rebuild time earlier in the year, the Sharks have been playing better recently and are currently second in the Pacific Division. Jones has been incredibly inconsistent and currently sits 29th in the NHL for SV%. When he’s good, Jones has been really good, but the team was likely looking for more when he was acquired from Boston.
Beyond Jones, Alex Stalock has been a disaster this season putting up a SV% below .900 and at the very least the Sharks would be likely want to add someone that can play alongside Jones while they push for a playoff spot in the West.
At his best, Reimer would give the Sharks a better goalie than Jones and at the very least they would get a huge upgrade to back him up. Since the Sharks weren’t smart enough to lottery-protect the pick they traded to Boston, they will certainly be buyers at the deadline and goaltending will be a very likely place to start. With only one pick in the first three rounds, the Sharks will be a lot more likely to trade prospects in any potential move.
Potential Trade Pieces: 2017 draft picks, D Michael Brodzinski, F Dylan Sadowy, F Kevin Leblanc
Potential Salary Dumps: Mike Brown (1 year, $1.2m)
New York Rangers
I know, I know, they have one of the best goalies in the world. Lundqvist is outstanding…when healthy. Unfortunately for the Rangers, he too has a tendency to get hurt. Maybe the Rangers don’t want to spend assets on a guy that will certainly be a backup if everything goes according to plan. But Reimer would be a very good insurance policy and a big upgrade on Antti Raanta. If the cost isn’t too steep, this is the kind of move that would make sense for GM Jeff Gorton. The Rangers are a legitimate cup contender if they can add a half-decent defender at the deadline, and Gorton wouldn’t want that to be derailed by an injury to King Henrik.
Many goalies are unable to play as well when they’re not in the crease every day. Reimer, on the other hand, has proven over his career that he is just as capable playing as a backup once a week as he is carrying the load every night. Beyond an insurance policy in case of injury, Reimer would be a better option than Raanta down the stretch to give Lundqvist a little extra time off, something that might be very beneficial come playoff time.
Potential Trade Pieces: 2016 2nd Round pick, F Ryan Gropp, D Brady Skjei, G Brandon Halverson
Potential Salary Dumps: Tanner Glass (2-years $1.45m)
When the season started, everyone assumed that by this time Carolina would be in sell-mode with the Leafs. Surprisingly, Carolina has overachieved this year and sit right in the middle of the Eastern conference playoff race. It may all be an illusion and a cold couple of weeks could still result in Carolina being sellers at the deadline, but if they continue the way they’re going, James Reimer would likely be a very interesting trade target for them. Cam Ward is an unrestricted free-agent this summer and beyond that he has been really bad since pretty much 2011. He’s the kind of player that was good and people think that he’s still good.
This past offseason, Carolina brought in Eddie Lack, and he hasn’t fared any better. Both of Carolina’s goalies have a SV% of .904 and if they are serious about making the playoffs they will need an upgrade. A playoff run (even a short one) means far more to Carolina and their owners than many other teams. Even getting swept in the first round means two playoff home dates that would go a long way in aiding team revenue for the season. There may be pressure from ownership to do whatever it takes to push for that final Wild Card spot and a trade to improve goaltending would be a huge help.
Carolina is also a team that may look to trade for Reimer in the hopes of re-signing him for the future. A Reimer/Lack tandem going forward would be a lot better than the goaltending Carolina has had over the past few years.
Potential Trade Pieces: G Alex Nedeljkovic, F Lucas Wallmark, D Roland McKeown, D Trevor Carrick, F Brock McGinn, 2016 2nd round pick, three 2016 3rd round picks.
Potential Salary Dumps: Nathan Gerbe (1 year $1.75m)
Another surprise team that nobody thought would be in buyer mode at the deadline, Arizona has shocked many who thought they’d be a front-runner for hometown boy Auston Matthews. The Coyotes are ahead of schedule in terms of their team development and have surprisingly been in a playoff spot all season while Old man Doan has been rejuvenated by a group of young stars. Domi, Duclair and Boedker join one of the best blue-liners in the league to form a core that has fans in Arizona excited for the future. Before they get to the future, Arizona might look to sell a little to give the people of Glendale a taste of playoff experience a year earlier than expected.
In net, Louis Domingue has been great since getting called up but what are the odds he continues to put up better numbers than he was in the AHL earlier in the year. While the rookie has been good, veterans Mike Smith and Anders Lindback have not. They have both been bad (really bad), and an insurance policy beyond the 23-year-old Domingue might be a good idea.
Many fans outside of Arizona will look at Gold Medal winner Mike Smith as the obvious choice to start for the team down the stretch, but he has been inconsistent at best for two years and is hampered by an injury that could put him out for longer than expected. While he’s not overly experienced, Reimer has a longer track record than Domingue and is probably a good idea if the Coyotes are committed to making a playoff push this season.
Potential Trade Pieces: F Conor Garland, F Christian Dvorak, F Brendan Perlini, F Ryan MacInnis, F Nick Merkely, D Dysin Mayo, NYR 2016 1st round pick, 2016 2nd round pick.
Potential Salary Dump: Steve Downie (1 year $1.75m)
While most people watching the NHL don’t see the Avalanche as contenders in the playoffs, it seems that Patrick Roy does. The Avs act as though they believe they are better than they actually are, and that’s great news for any team trying to sell players to them. Colorado is a team that might give up the most valuable future assets in an attempt to make the current team stronger.
The Avs are in such rough shape between the pipes that when Varlamov missed practice to go to court last week, their hall of fame head coach strapped on the pads. With Reto Berra hurt, the Aves are down to only Calvin Pickard backing up Varlamov, and that is far from ideal.
Varlamov has been ok this season but Reimer would definitely provide the team with an upgrade as a 1b at the very least. There’s a good chance the Avs will make a few ‘questionable’ moves in the next month and the hope is that Lou & Co can be the group to exploit them.
Potential Trade Pieces: F Connor Bleackley, F JT Compher, D Andrei Mironov, D Kyle Wood, 2016 draft picks
Potential Salary Dump: Brad Stuart (2-years $3.6m), Alex Tanguay (1-year $3.5m)