Reimer the Islander?

For reasons I am not entirely sure of, the Toronto Maple Leafs do not seem particularly ‘high’ on James Reimer.

In 120 games for the club, Reimer has gone 60-37-15 with a .917 save percentage and backstopped the Leafs to their first post season appearance since 2004 last term.

A lot of goalies would be pretty proud of that record, and would probably have earned at least a shot at being the teams #1.

But it seems to be becoming more and more apparent that Jonathan Bernier is the Leafs go to guy between the pipes; and with Manitoba native Reimer heading for free agency this summer, more and more trade rumours seem to involve the 25-year old.

Is it unrealistic to think Garth Snow might think about giving Dave Nonis a quick call?

The Islanders frailty in net is not news to anyone, but it was brought starkly in to focus when Evgeni Nabokov went down with a groin injury in mid November.

Whilst Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson both showed flashes of ability, neither was able to steady the ship as the Islanders sank to the bottom of the Metropolitan Division.

Nabokov is healthy again, but the veteran stopper has done little to stop the rot (Isles are now 9-19-7) and is in the autumn of his career. The Islanders are in need of both short and long term security in the crease, and Reimer can at least provide league average goaltending (or better, on his day) and has plenty of years ahead of him.

James Reimer

Cap space is not an issue for the Islanders either, with the club a little under $11.9m clear of the cap ceiling at present. They could easily accommodate the remainder of Reimer’s $1.8m deal and offer him a significant pay rise if they are willing to back him as the teams number 1.

What Toronto might look to acquire in return for Reimer is unclear however.

Logic seems to dictate that some sort of defensive boost would be useful. The Leafs goalies have seen more rubber than anyone this season, with Toronto giving up a whopping 1,291 shots so far – the next nearest are Ottawa and Washington, both on 1,192 shots against.

Could Andy MacDonald help bring a little more calm to Toronto’s sometimes frantic defence?

As much of a fan of MacDonald as I am, the 27-year old will also be a free agent this summer. Although the ‘vibe’ seems to be that he would re-sign with the Islanders, he will almost certainly be looking at a significant pay rise on his current $550,000 deal. Are the Islanders willing to meet his expectations?

With Calvin DeHaan getting his shot with the big club, Aaron Ness playing well and Griffin Reinhart in the system, MacDonald could be deemed surplus if the right deal came along.

Currently, MacDonald may be one of the best value players in the NHL; with his miniscual cap hit and minute munching play – he leads the Islanders in average time on ice, logging just over 26 minutes per night; sixth highest in the NHL.

Whilst he is not a big scorer, MacDonald’s solid defensive play and ability to play big minutes could perhaps make him an ideal partner for Dion Phaneuf – the Leafs Captain, whom the club have struggled to find a regular partner for.

An alternative trade ‘target’, depending on where Toronto feel they need a boost, might be Josh Bailey.

Ontario native Bailey has struggled so far this season, after making steady progress since his Islanders debut in 2008. He has been quite highly thought of within the organisation but his versatility could be a strong selling point should Garth Snow wish to move him, despite a $3.3m cap hit.

It’s conceivable either Poulin or Nilsson might also be packaged in to any deal, giving Toronto a capable netminder to backup Jonathan Bernier, whilst the Leafs may also try and ‘help themselves’ by looking to move a higher earner like John Michael Liles (and it’s not like Liles couldn’t help the Isles D either!) to Long Island.

There are a few caveats, such as the Leafs making a serious move to keep Reimer, but a deal between the Islanders and Toronto involving James Reimer could have serious benefits for both parties.

Perhaps it is not as crazy as it may at first seem.

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on December 18, 2013, in Hockey, New York Islanders, NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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