Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - New Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave
Nonis has been content to leave his goaltending tandem untouched through the
first quarter of the season but the recent knee injury to James Reimer might
force him to change his approach.
With the Leafs off to a solid start to the campaign and given the critical need
for that franchise to reach the postseason for the first time since 2004, it's
hard to imagine Nonis is comfortable with sitting back and leaving the fate of
his club even in the short-term in the hands of 26-year-old Ben Scrivens, who
has all of 17 games worth of NHL experience on his resume.
Even if Reimer's setback is short-term as the team believes it will be, the
Leafs have to be seriously considering making a move for insurance purposes
given Reimer's recent history with injuries.
Reimer, now in his third season at the NHL level, missed a significant chunk of
games midseason last year with a concussion and then had to contend with a
neck issue that kept him out toward the end of the campaign.
Toronto has long been thought to be in the market for a new number one
netminder with most of the rumors surrounding current Vancouver Canucks goalie
Roberto Luongo, a player that the Leafs were believed to be heavily pursuing
during the extended offseason.
Those rumors have understandably died down with the Leafs off to a good start
thanks in large part to Reimer, who is responsible for six of his team's eight
wins and has so far produced career-best numbers in goals-against-average
(2.31) and save percentage (.929).
The fact the Canucks are off to a good start of their own and seemingly have no
issues for the time being rotating starts between Luongo and Cory Schneider has
also contributed to the lack of trade talks.
Reimer's strong play this season might be enough to dissuade the Leafs from
making any more advances towards the Canucks for the services of Luongo given
the fact that adding the Canadian Olympic gold medalist to their lineup would
essentially spell the end of Reimer's career in Toronto. At the same time, it's
also increasingly unlikely the Leafs have the parts to make a serious run at
Luongo. The Canucks had been rumored to be interested in Toronto center Tyler
Bozak but the imminent return of Ryan Kesler coupled with the recent strong
play of rookie Jordan Schroeder greatly diminishes their need for a center in
Kings' backup netminder, 24-year-old Jonathan Bernier, is another name that has
been bandied about in Toronto as a potential trade target and makes more sense
for the Leafs than Luongo since he'd likely be brought in to work in tandem
alongside Reimer as opposed to just usurp the number one role as Luongo would.
Bernier, however, would likely fetch a price even greater than Luongo's given
his age and friendlier contract status.
There may also be some interest in bringing in a capable veteran who could take
over the reins if needed although their lack of success the last few years with
that set up (see Curtis Joseph or Jean-Sebastien Giguere) would probably
preclude them from heading back down that path.
The asking price for goalies currently available will have an effect on the
direction that Nonis ultimately decides to take but it's clear that the one
thing the Leafs GM cannot afford to do is maintain the status quo especially
seeing as how Toronto could be just one Reimer slump or injury away from
missing the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season.
Nonis' phone might have been largely dormant for the opening month of the
season as far as goaltending talks are concerned but this current injury to
Reimer might just be the wake-up call that the Leafs GM needs to finally
address their situation in the crease once and for all.
The Sports Network