By: Adam Pasternak
It seems like the Leafs have not had a stable goaltender since the days of Ed Belfour, or even Curtis “Cujo” Joseph. They thought they had it in Raycroft…nope! Toskala? Nope! Then there was Martin Gerber and J.S Giguere for a few games and after that they thought they had found their man in James Reimer. After a heartbreaking playoff run, the Leafs brass thought that the previous year may have been a fluke, so they went out and traded for then “emerging star” Jonathan Bernier from the L.A Kings. Bernier had some early success, but ultimately has not fared any better than his predecessors. This is where the Leafs stand as of last night: Reimer has run away with the starting job, and Bernier has looked mediocre at best. Reimer’s contract is up at the end of the season, and his future is up in the air, once again. Bernier, on the other hand, is on a fresh 2 year, $8.3 million extension that he signed this past offseason. The presumption at the start of the season was that Bernier would be the guy, and Reimer would probably get traded at the deadline, or sign elsewhere at seasons end. Now, just roughly a month into the season it looks like Bernier should be the odd man out, if one of the two were to be moved.
It’s still very early in the season, and the leafs aren’t projected to – or even trying to – do well, so it is hard to look at the stats this year and decide on who to go with in the future. Personally I think Bernier has to go, he’s got an ego, and appears to think he is a lot better and a lot more proven then he really is. For the money the Leafs are paying him, they could be doing a lot better. Reimer plays with passion and lays his heart out on the line every game, even if he isn’t playing well, he is always giving the effort. He doesn’t make excuses and he’s got the mentality of an underdog. He’s had to earn his spot at every level, where Bernier was a high draft pick and highly regarded as a young player coming up. Reimer is affordable, and as proven, can be a great backup if later down the road the Leafs can get their hands on a more established and talented goalie, or a more exciting prospect. I truly don’t know what the Leafs could get for Bernier on the trade market, but you would have to think someone would give up a draft pick for him. That’s all the Leafs really want at this point and if they are going to stay true to their rebuild, it’s all they really need.
Injury to Bernier essentially gave Reimer the chance to take the number one spot, and he did. It will be interesting to see how he plays going forward. Can he keep the number one job? Can he stay healthy? Will either goalie ever actually become the goalie that Toronto needs? Will either of them be in Toronto at this time next year? We won’t know the answers to these questions for a little while, but like I said earlier, I think Reimer will be a Leaf a lot longer then Bernier.
What do you think? Will Reimer keep playing well? Will Bernier ultimately get the number one job back? Comment below!
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