Toronto ’s Goaltending Situation
Optimus Reim, Reiminister of Defence, Reim Time, King James. No matter what he’s called there’s no denying that James Reimer was a wall between the pipes during the 2013-14 season for the Leafs. Putting up incredible numbers along with a stellar playoff performance that caused an unanticipated seven game series with division rivals the Bruins, Reimer has surely proven that he’s #1 material. So was it necessary for Dave Nonis to pick up LA backup Jonathan Bernier via trade?
While another potential starting goaltender was not the club’s primary necessity, this trade certainly isn’t as detrimental as some might suggest. First of all, Bernier has shown he could have what it takes to be a starting goalie in the NHL. Although he has not had much playing experience due to a backup position behind LA all-star goalie Jonathan Quick, from what he has played he has proven that he’s solid between the posts. His numbers from last season help prove his skill. In 13 games he posted a .922 save percentage and a 1.88 goals against average. Not only will Bernier’s skill will be a positive addition to the Leafs roster, but also simply his presence. Picking up Bernier will create beneficial competition between Reimer and himself. With previous Leafs backup Ben Scrivens, it was quite apparent that Reimer was the better goaltender. With this new goalie combination, it’s much less evident who should be the starter. Hopefully this will further motivate Reimer on a nightly basis, knowing that mistakes could cost him his #1 position.
It’s quite clear that the addition of Bernier has several benefits for the team, but can the same be said about the trade to acquire him? The deal with the Kings saw Leafs backup goaltender Ben Scrivens, forward Matt Frattin, and a second round pick heading to LA for Jonathan Bernier. Many fans have been quick to rule this trade as a big mistake on Nonis’ part, but it should be looked at like this: Bernier immediately replaces Scrivens, making the loss of Scrivens inconsequential. Frattin, although at times showed flashes of goal-scoring ability, never showed consistency, putting him in the group of bottom six forwards. Frattin isn’t a big loss for the Leafs as they have many promising prospects such as Tyler Biggs and Jerry D’Amigo who could easily fill his spot in the near future. The second round pick in the deal can be justified as being necessary for the goalie upgrade that the Leafs experience with the swapping of Scrivens for Bernier. Although at first the trade can seem like a bit much for the Leafs to give up, it is far from a bad deal and depending on Bernier’s play, could turn out to be an extremely advantageous move.
With the new pairing of Reimer and Bernier, the play of the two will be particularly interesting to watch, as well as how the Leafs will choose to split up the playing time of each. Although everyone is excited to see Bernier in the crease, I have only one request for the Leafs: Please start Reimer on opening night. After what he did in the playoffs, the guy deserves it.
By Ben Kingston
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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