While the clouds of uncertainty overshadow his impending restricted free agency, there is one logical destination for James Reimer — the Stampede City with the Calgary Flames.
The Toronto Maple Leafs can match any contract offered to Reimer. A tumultuous season, highlighted by the media barbing that he and Leafs’ head coach Randy Carlyle engaged in mere weeks ago, signifies that it’s pretty clear both player and team will be looking for a fresh start come summer.
Reimer, despite struggling this season to the tune of an 11-13-1 record with a whopping 3.39 GAA and .908 SV percentage, has made it clear that he views himself as a No. 1 NHL goaltender. His numbers this season will suggest otherwise, but he has been playing in a toxic environment in Toronto since the offseason acquisition of Jonathan Bernier. At 26 years of age, Reimer is still young enough for a team to think his best years still await him. It was only a year ago, in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, that Reimer posted an impressive 19-8-5 record accompanied by a 2.46 GAA and .924 SV percentage, both career bests.
Enter the Flames. Calgary can offer Reimer a legitimate shot at claiming their No. 1 spot, competing against incumbent Karri Ramo. Flames president of hockey operations and acting GM Brian Burke is familiar with Reimer and vice versa from Burke’s not-too-distant past in the Toronto front office. There will always be an adjustment getting used to a new city and organization, yet Reimer’s relationship with Burke could spark interest from the Manitoba native.
Not only would the situation appeal to Reimer, from the criteria he has already mentioned he will be looking for, it is also a tremendous fit for the Flames. At this point in time, Reimer would be extremely lucky to get an offer for two years. As he is entering his prime, and wanting to secure a long-term contract within the next couple seasons, both Reimer and the Flames could be eager to make something happen on a one-year contract. If one were to view this one-year offer as an audition or tryout, they would be absolutely correct.
The aforementioned Ramo will enter the final year of his contract next season, as well. With two goaltenders competing in the quest for their next big pay day, the level of play between the pipes in Calgary would surely be at a high level. The edge would favor Reimer, but don’t count out Ramo, who has played strong as of late for the Flames.
As a summer of uncertainty awaits Reimer, one thing is clear — his next stop should be in Calgary.