The Toronto Maple Leafs may have been the biggest surprise in the league during the 2013 season. They snapped a decade-long playoff drought and proved to be much more than a fluke, grabbing the no. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the club as a whole was the play of goaltender James Reimer.
It’s well documented how hard the Maple Leafs have searched for a goaltender over the past couple of years. They pursued Roberto Luongo last summer and reportedly at the trade deadline, while being mentioned in connection with virtually every other goaltender to hit either the free agent market or trade block in the past couple of years.
Reimer came out in 2013 season flashing the form that led mean to believe that he’s a franchise goaltender for this club. The 2011-2012 season was a year in which Reimer’s performance was hampered by injury, as he was limited to only 34 starts on the year. This story was a different story entirely.
He came back in 2013 and won 19 of his 33 starts on the year. He gave the Leafs a formidable duo between the pipes with Ben Scrivens. Reimer posted a .924 save percentage and a 2.46 GAA on the year, numbers that include four shutouts. He was particularly strong in the postseason.
Though the Maple Leafs were eliminated in the first round of the postseason, Reimer was a huge part of why they were able to stretch the series to seven games. He was constantly peppered with shots throughout the series, facing 40 shots four times, and finished the series with a .923 save percentage.
The question is whether or not his performance, both during the regular season and in the playoffs, was enough to cement his status as the no. 1 goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The answer is one that is sort of uncertain at this point. In April, the Leafs still reportedly pursued Luongo, which indicates that their situation may not be as solid as we thought.
Both goaltenders’ contracts are up after this season. It will be interesting to see if the Maple Leafs make Reimer their franchise guy and sign him to an extension, or if they change up their goaltenders this summer. While they have more important areas to focus on, it will be an intriguing situation to keep an eye on this summer.