Toronto Maple Leafs Shouldn't Trade A Goaltender

By Michael Roberts
James Reimer
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

James Reimer’s performance for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Pittsburgh Penguins showed exactly why his team shouldn’t be looking to move a goaltender.

Reimer returned to action for the first time since teammate Josh Leivo’s knee crashed into his head during the opening minute of a previous contest. The collision instantly brought up fears of a concussion given Reimer’s unfortunate history, but the goaltender put any worries to rest with his outstanding performance against Pittsburgh.

Playing for the first time in over a week, Reimer made 37 saves against the most offensively gifted team in the league and was named the first star in a 4-1 Toronto victory. Reimer stood on his head through the entire contest, especially in the second period when the Maple Leafs were outshot 16-4. If it wasn’t for Reimer, there is no chance that Toronto defeats Sidney Crosby, Evengi Malkin and the rest of the Penguins.

Prior to Reimer colliding with Leivo, there were trade rumors surrounding the goaltender. Many believed that given Jonathan Bernier’s strong start to the season, it would only be a matter of time before Reimer was shipped out of town. However, with the Maple Leafs possessing two goalies that have continuously proven they are capable of stealing games for the club, Toronto shouldn’t be looking to move either player.

Since Bernier was acquired in the offseason, it likely means Reimer would be the only goaltender traded. With two quality goaltenders on the roster, it would make sense for the club to explore a trade for Reimer in order to upgrade the team in other areas. However, having two goaltenders playing at such a high level is a rarity in the league, and therefore Toronto shouldn’t be so quick to make a move.

Both players certainly want to be between the pipes as much as they can, but both are young and still developing, which gives the Maple Leafs plenty of time to explore their options until at least the trade deadline, if not the offseason.

This isn’t a situation like the one that the Vancouver Canucks had a year ago where Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider were disgruntled, and it showed in the team’s on-ice performance. Luongo was a proven No. 1 goaltender who deserved to be in net — if not for the Canucks, then for some other organization. Meanwhile, Schneider was just establishing himself as a proven No. 1 goaltender and likely deserved to be a starter in the league as well.

In Toronto’s case, Reimer and Bernier are still establishing themselves as first-string players. Both have shown they have the potential to be the team’s No. 1 goaltender, but both have also struggled at times this season. Given how poorly the Maple Leafs’ goaltending situation has been since Ed Belfour left, the last thing the team should be looking to do is to trade Reimer or Bernier.

The last time Toronto had two up-and-coming goaltenders was when the team had Justin Pogge and Tuuka Rask emerging through the pipelines. They quickly moved Rask and Pogge quickly forgot how to stop a puck. Imagine the reaction the fan base would have if they moved Reimer and Bernier fell flat on his face? It would cripple the franchise.

The Maple Leafs should play out the season with both goaltenders on the roster. When one hasn’t played well, the other has come in to steal a game the next night. It’s been a trend that has led to Toronto being at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Therefore, there should be no rush to make a move. The team should let the two rotate between the pipes for the remainder of the year and look to make a move in the offseason. Rushing a decision now just to make a trade has proven to bite the team in the past.

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