Why the Leafs shouldn’t even consider trading James Reimer right now

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Before the 2013-14 NHL season began, a lot of the hype surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs concerned the inevitable goaltending ‘controversy’ that lied ahead. With one month in the books, there is little controversy and plenty of praise to be shared amongst both Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer.

The Leafs went 10-4-0 in October. They currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with 20 points earned out of a possible 28. And both goalies have contributed to the early season success in Toronto.

Reimer is 4-0 with a 0.949 save percentage and 1.99 goals against average. Newcomer Bernier has played strongly as well, accumulating a 6-4 record with a solid 0.933 SV % and 2.31 GAA.

Being based out of Toronto I am exposed to talk radio and Leafs media speculation regularly. One topic that surfaces often here, is the idea that the Leafs should trade James Reimer while his value is high. I must say, that is a terrible idea.

Bernier has been amazing, that I won’t argue. And the way he does it – Bernier looks like he knows what he’s doing between the pipes, whereas Reimer, is less controlled and calming. That being said, as a tandem they are providing the Leafs with a chance to win hockey games virtually every single night. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

The Leafs have been outshot in 10 of their 14 games this season. Because they like to make their goalies work so hard, possessing two capable keepers is a really good idea for the Buds right now. For instance, on the second game of a back-to-back swing through Alberta, a rested Bernier made a career high 41 saves in a 4-2 Leafs victory. Had he played the night before in Edmonton (4-0 win for Reimer) he may not have been able to perform so well under constant pressure from the Calgary Flames.

Also, there is no need to give either Bernier or Reimer the title of undisputed starter. A strong month is not enough to prove goaltending excellence in the National Hockey League. Many a goalie has come through this city and disappointed when expected to perform consistently over an entire NHL season, or across the span of a few seasons. At the moment, Bernier and Reimer still have much to prove. That’s just the way it is in the NHL. Sometimes a goaltender gets figured out and he’s never the same. Patience with the current goalie duo is a smart idea for the time being.

And if moving Reimer is a good idea, what would he be worth in a trade? Grantland‘s Sean McIndoe recently wrote an in-depth piece examining goaltender ‘net worth’ tracing every NHL level goalie trade since armageddon in 2005. You can view that here. However, If I may summarize, his findings reveal that goalies usually aren’t worth much in a trade according to recent NHL history. That is to say, they are always almost worth more to the team they’re with than their inevitable return via trade.

What is the largely unproven James Reimer worth in a trade? Probably not that first line centre or all-star defenseman you’re hoping for.