Options In Net?


There’s a lot of questioning as to who will go in net for the Toronto Maple Leafs next year. Not in the starting role; Jonathan Bernier has that covered, but as the backup. What options do the Toronto Maple Leafs have? As we can clearly see, it won’t be me. Lets break it down..

Pay James Reimer

Reimer has filed for salary arbitration, which means that his contract will be settled quickly. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement soon, an arbitrator will decide his cap hit for next year. If it’s under $3.5 million, which is likely, the Leafs have to sign him.

Positives: Reimer is good at goaltending when he doesn’t take hits to the head, and is bound to bounce back this season.

Negatives: Depending on what he gets awarded, he may be a detriment to the Leafs’ cap situation. Doesn’t particularly want to be here in the current climate, which may prove problematic. 

Sign a Free Agent

There’s still a few goaltenders left on the UFA market. Notable names include Martin Brodeur, Tomas Vokoun, Tim Thomas, Nikolai Khabibulin, and Ilya Bryzgalov.

Positives: A UFA only costs money, not assets. As well, some of these guys have a wealth of experience and stories to possibly provide Bernier and the rest of the team. 

Negatives: Pretty much every veteran goaltender on this list was once great, but now terrible. Vokoun was good the last time he played, but that was well over a year ago. Guys like Nathan Lawson and Cal Heeter have never been good. Bryzgalov might be alright if you get the one that played for Minnesota instead of Edmonton, but he’s a distraction even in smaller markets.

Make a Trade

Surely some team will be willing to give up a good AHL starter or a prospect who doesn’t quite fit into their organization, right? Somebody like Jacob Markstrom, who is now an odd man out with Ryan Miller coming in for the Canucks. Or just whatever fodder has to come back from the other team in a potential Reimer trade.

Positives: Would likely come at a low price, given the current goaltending market. May need to take somebody by default in any event. Some seriously good talent has been acquired on the cheap by teams in the past with this method.

Negatives: Unlikely to find a safe bet goaltender on the market right now. Those that are safe will likely be retained by teams who own them until at least the 20 game mark as they evaluate their place on the market. 

Bring Back Jussi Rynnas

Once signed as a maybe out of Finland, the man they call “the bus” showed moments of elite potential, more moments of collapse, and a quite a few injuries with his time with the Marlies. His one attempt at playing for the Leafs was a disaster. But he’s torn up the SM-Liiga again, and he’s back for another shot at North America!

Positives: The Leafs are doing this whole reunion thing right now, bringing back Matt Frattin and Leo Komarov over the past two weeks. Why not a third?

Negatives: Because the Stars just signed him. Maybe they’re hoping to recreate Kari Lehtonen? Hey, I wonder if Jack Campbell is available..

Free Garret Sparks

Maybe it’s time to just flat out rush the youth movement? Antoine Bibeau is going to be hitting the pros up this year, and there are three Leafs goaltending prospects below the NHL that are 21 or younger. Why not just swing for the fences and move the remaining Marlies goalie with the most games played up a level?

Positives: Sparks would get to learn about the NHL grind at a very early age. He’s already familiar with the city. Cheered for the Blackhawks in the 2013 cup run, which basically makes him David Bolland. Might influence Phil Kessel to grow the best flow of all time.

Negatives: Plays better when he has consistent starts, which isn’t super likely. Probably isn’t ready to play in the NHL. Might spend his first paycheque on a lethal dose of Chipotle and Sushi.

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  • Personally, I think we should pay James Reimer, cap be damned. He’s great in goal and beloved by Steve and on Tumblr, and I’m not actually joking when I say I think that’s where the next wave of Leafs fandom is being taught.

    For a second option, though, Garret Sparks doesn’t sound TOO bad. Yes, he’s young, but so is most of the team, and we know basically nothing about him… no news is good news?

    (Besides, Chipotle and Sushi cancel each other out, so it’s impossible to have a fatal dose if you’re eating both.)

  • FlareKnight

    Certainly aren’t a ton of good options. I hesitate on the trade route since Nonis always sprinkles in more picks than he needs to there. Sparks would be a gamble and certainly the UFA pool is full of guys who have seen better days.

    Although at the same time Reimer has some questions. Mostly if he can actually play well in a backup position. Seems fine when he’s the guy, but that adjustment might be hard on him and you have the potential locker room distraction of a guy who doesn’t want to be there. Best case scenario it’s the easier route especially if you just arbitrate a one year deal.

  • giproc

    I’m fine with Reimer coming back if his head is into it and he accepts the backup role. Give him a year at 2 million with a promise that the Leafs will entertain possible trades for him if they arise.

    My fear is that the arbitrator awards Reimer something near or above Bernier’s 2.9 million but less then 3.5 so the Leafs are stuck with it.

  • giproc

    What would the culture change be with a Reimer
    on the Leafs who didnt want to be there .

    sign Reimer ….demote him to the Marlies if we cant get a anything for him.
    (attitude adjustment period)

    And remember hockey is entertainment so there is one great option.




      • I say asking to be traded because the Leafs
        started Bernier more than him is displaying
        attitude especially when really no team in the NHL
        has expressed interest in Reimer as their #1.

        And by asking to be traded it leaves the Leafs in
        a predicament of giving away the asset for peanuts or forcing him into playing for the Leafs, which after the Luongo situation is demonstrably a bad scenario.

        I think RFA players should not be able to leverage his team into trading him just because he cant outplay the other goalie on the team for the starters position.

        This in my mind demonstrates attitude and teams like Ottawa have been severely crippled by such behaviors.

    • giproc

      I thought he played pretty well for the Wild last year
      2013–14 Minnesota Wild NHL 12 7 1 — 3 679 24 3 2.12 .911

      not quite as good in the playoffs but lost to a tough Blackhawk team.

      and I bet he would sign for under a million.
      -As he is still having trouble spending all the money from the Flyer buyout.

      He is experienced and even though I am optimistic about the Leafs having a good season next year, I have been around long enough to know they might not .
      And if that happens the media needs someone to
      dig their teeth into besides every other player on the leafs.

      And honestly everyone knows Philadelphia is the place goaltenders go to die…..There hasn’t been a beloved goalie in Philly I think since Bernie Parent.

      And he is a much better interview than Kessel.
      and the new Russian “I dont know”

      and going into Winnipeg you have to start Bryzgalov. And besides the leafs need a Russian on the team…..I cant remember when the Leafs didnt have a Russian on the team…..

      so come on let’s give some love to the guy with personality and someone who never uses boring cliches……..




      • giproc

        Hextall was pretty well liked in Philly.

        And Petri Kontiola is not a Russian, he’s Finnish.

        Please sign Bryz, love that guy! Wouldn’t want him to be the scapegoat on yet another team though.

        • Your right I forgot about Ron Hextall ….

          Petri Kontiola is a Finlander I noticed this mistake a second after I posted….

          And I also dont want him to be scapegoated
          I was just pandering to all the guys who have the
          impulse to hammer any nail that sticks apart from others.

          I think the NHL is more interesting with him in the game ….though with Carlyle so old school
          probably not a good mix……

          but still I like him better than a malcontent Reimer and I dont see any other viable alternatives.