Today I continue what has seemingly become my “acquire all ex-Leafs” series by looking at the possibility of the Jets one day picking up James Reimer. I have already written pieces about how lovely it would have been for the Jets to snag now Senator Clarke MacArthur, and Mikhail Grabovski (my fingers are still crossed on this one) and there are some serious reasons to think that James Reimer may be the next excellent Leaf player to be on his way out of town. So hey, if Dave Nonis is willing to make all of the players who helped get his team to the playoffs available, who am I to not hope they appear in Winnipeg?
By this point, I think it’s fair to say we all know my thoughts on Ondrej Pavelec. I also think it’s fair to say that they are shared by most of the blogosphere. So it’s simple to understand why the thought of any PROVEN (yes, I said proven) goaltender possibly being available makes my mouth water.
Why do I think he’s available?
Well, for a variety of reasons. (Many of which have been mentioned elsewhere before, primarily on the Steve Dangle Podcast, and mapleleafsnation.com)
First, everything Dave Nonis gave up in bringing Jonathan Bernier to Toronto. Despite the fact that Reimer was the main reason that the Leafs even made the playoffs this year, never mind almost beating the Bruins in the first round, Nonis felt it necessary that the team give up 2 players, cash (he retained a portion of Scrivens’ salary), and a draft pick (2nd rounder at that) for a backup goaltender with lots of promise (Vesa Toskala anyone?). A move like this sends a message that you are not comfortable with the current situation, and seems to read as Reimer simply not being a key figure in Nonis’ long term plans. This leads to my second point. Clearly, and quite justifiably so, these moves left James less than impressed, despite his very well-known laid back, smiley and overall charismatic attitude. Somehow, even though he has more starts, more wins, and better stats than Bernier, Reimer will likely be the backup to start this season, and he can’t like that. He almost single handedly got them to the playoffs for goodness sake! Reimer is an RFA at the end of the upcoming season, and you best believe that there is a chance that he won’t want to stick around Toronto for much longer.
In fact, Reimer’s upcoming RFA status relates to another major point. The Leafs most likely won’t have the cap space to bring James back. At least not if he is looking for any kind of raise. Despite using both amnesty buy-outs this year, the Leafs willy-nilly spending on free-agents, combined with the need to still sign Kadri, Gunnarsson and Franson will likely push them right up against the cap wall. They then need to attempt to re-sign Kessel (who is due for a raise), Gardiner (who is due for a raise), Kulemin, and captain Phaneuf among several others next year. Reimer will likely be looking for that aforementioned raise as well considering his current $1.8 million cap hit, and I don’t see the likely cash-strapped Leafs willing to give one to their current “backup” net minder.
Finally, it appears as if the Toronto media and the majority of the fan base are ready to run the guy out of town. Almost daily I’ve seen more and more reports as to why Reimer should be forgotten. From hate towards his rebound control to his glove hand, it seems as if the people of Toronto are quick to forget what this guy has done for the team, and it seems almost imminent that he is going to be shipped out as soon as the right offer comes along.
Why the Jets?
There are a couple reasons as to why I think the Jets would end up as a possible destination for James. First, Dave Nonis is obviously going to move him to a team that can provide the Leafs with something they need. As of now, it appears that defense depth is one of those areas. Looking at the Jets roster, there is a chance that they will have an abundance of NHL-quality defensive players. Should Trouba grow into the player the team expects, Redmond prove to not be a one-hit wonder, and Postma re-sign with the team, the Jets will have bodies to move. A player like Mark Stuart is a very “Randy Carlyle-esk” player if the Leafs end up as buyers at the trade deadline, or moving newly signed Grant Clitsome could be an option if the Leafs are looking for a player with term. There is also the possibility of moving draft picks if need be, although I don’t believe that the Jets are currently in a position organizationally that allows that to become a first option.
The move may also be appealing to James, who hails from Morweena Manitoba (about 2 hours North of Winnipeg), and likely wouldn’t hate being slightly closer to home. He would also likely walk in as the clear number 1, a position he has never been “handed” before in his career. Finally, judging by the money Chevy was willing to give Pavelec, Reimer would be in for a decent pay raise for a solid term which would undoubtedly please him. This would all contribute to solidifying the odds of Reimer signing on long term once becoming an RFA, a factor that the Jets would have to be all but guaranteed before they would even consider making a move for him.
There are many pieces that would have to fall in place for this to happen. The Jets and TNSE would finally have to admit to the major mistake they made in putting their faith in Pavelec, Reimer would have to become truly upset with the situation in Toronto, the Jets would have to be aggressive in obtaining him, etc. Yet with the capability of both Jets buyouts being available, the presence of Bernier somewhat diminishing the odds of Reimer sticking with the Leafs, and the pure desperation that may (and likely will) come out of Chevy following this season, the chance is there.
What do you think? Are you still holding out for Pavelec? Would you even want Reimer? Are you tired of me trying to get Leafs in the Jets locker room? Let us know in the comments box below!