The Deal on Reimer
VANCOUVER--It's hardly a contract that will break the bank or constrain the Maple Leafs from doing anything else they want to do now or in the near future.
Heck, when James Reimer suits up over the next three seasons, he still won't be making the average NHL salary.
So the exposure here for Brian Burke and Co. is very limited.
That said, giving Reimer a three-year, $5.4 million contract today as reported first by The Star is a leap of faith based on a half-season of elite goaltending. They can't say they know exactly what they have.
Look at L.A. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, whose contract served as the template for Reimer's deal.
Quick has played three full NHL seasons, has 96 wins, and in each season his save percentage has been above .900 and his G.A.A. at 2.54 or better. Quick, 25, signed his extension last fall and it kicks in next season. He also, at age 25, already has 12 playoff games under his belt.
By comparison, Reimer, a little younger at age 23, has 20 NHL wins that came with a save percentage of.921 and a G.A.A. of 2.60. His only playoff experience as a pro has been in the ECHL.
So the Leafs had to made an educated guess on whether Reimer's excellence last season can be carried forward. He also did well at the world championships this spring, although in the end, head coach Ken Hitchcock turned to L.A.'s other young goalie, Jonathan Bernier.
Now the focus has to turn towards getting a reliable, helpful backup for Reimer, somebody who can play 35 games if necessary, somebody who can go in an play four or five in a row if Reimer goes cold and needs to regroup. Hard to believe that's J.S. Giguere. Even harder to believe it's Jonas Gustavsson. The answer probably lies outside the organization.
But finding that answer matters. It's all well and good that the Leafs obviously believe in Reimer, and he may be the real deal. But he'll still need help.