28-Year-Old Goalie – Florida Panthers
James Reimer Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $17 million contract with the Panthers in July of 2016.
Reimer will cover the cage as Wednesday's road starter against the Oilers, Mark Spector of Sportsnet reports.
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James Reimer: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Optimus Reims enters camp to an "open competition" for the role of starter. Or at least that’s what new general manager Lou Lamoriello was mouthing over the summer. Reimer is a real battler and his teammates really like him, but he’ll need to improve dramatically on his 9-16-1 record, 3.16 GAA and .907 save percentage from 2014-15 to even get 35 games of action this season. New goalie coach Steve Briere could potentially help change Reimer from a battler to a thinker, particularly with his focus on statistical approaches to analyzing games and working on sports vision training. But at the end of the day, Reimer is just a really, really good NHL backup, and he should be drafted as such.
Reimer kissed and made up with Leafs management over the summer and signed a two-year contract extension in July. He even said he was told he has a "definite opportunity" to win the starter's job in camp. Realistically, Reimer's contract makes him valuable trade bait because Jonathan Bernier is the superior netminder. Reimer does somehow manage to stop pucks when he gets enough starts, but he really struggles to find his groove when he's not getting No. 1 minutes. He'll need to seriously improve on his 12-16-1 record, 3.29 GAA and .911 save percentage to get a real shot in Toronto. We just don't put much faith in him when it comes to our fantasy squad or yours, at least when he's wearing blue and white. But somewhere else, like Winnipeg? You might start to see the potential.
Reimer's world changed in the blink of an eye … or a trade, in this case. Enter former Kings' hotshot back-up, Jonathan Bernier, and Reimer's so-called lock on the starter's gig disappeared. Now, the Leafs' brass is saying all the right things and insisting the two men have an equal shot to be number one. But Reimer is at a distinct disadvantage in the fight. He's a blocker, not a stopper like Bernier. And his athleticism isn't as great. Reimer's glove hand is suspect, but if he's one thing, he's a battler. He will not go down without a fight, but a platoon will be the best-case scenario for him. Worst case? He's locked into a heavy-rotation back-up who sees 35-40 percent of the starts. Unfortunately, his fantasy value is as a handcuff at this point. Sorry, keeper owners.
Is Optimus Reims healthy? The Leafs sure hope so. Last season looked promising until that fateful hit to the head from wee Brian Gionta. Apparently, the injury wasn't really a concussion, but a neck injury. However, it clouded his whole season, literally and figuratively. The haze has apparently cleared this offseason and he's champing at the bit to prove he's worthy of the top job in the Big Smoke. We'll see. General Manager Brian Burke has said he's okay with a Reimer-Ben Scrivens pairing, but he'd previously said his top priority was a starting goalie. Use caution on draft day ... and every day after that. Roberto Luongo rumors just won't go away and the last thing you need is a back-up goalie in your stable.
Reimer enters the season entrenched as the Leafs' top dog. His ascent to that spot was nothing short of miraculous considering he'd never boasted a .920 save percentage in his three years in junior and he spent almost all of the 2008-09 season in the East Coast league. He's big (6-2, 210) and fast, and he demonstrates an unflappable, easy-going demeanor that allows him to shake off bad goals and bad games with ease. Best of all, his mates love playing in front of him and seem to draw energy from every save he makes. Last season's 20 wins should grow to 30 as long as there's no sophomore skid. We don't foresee one but he is only 23 and stranger things have happened to far more touted twinetenders.
Reimer used to be the Leafs' top netminding prospect; that was until they signed Finnish phenom Jussi Rynnas. Reimer is big, plays his angles well and turned a lot of heads last season with a 14-8-2 record, 2.25 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. He and Rynnas will split games with the Marlies; pretty soon, we'll know who's the next one.
Reimer's 16-7 record, 2.85 GAA and .917 save percentage in the ECHL last season catapulted him ahead of Justin Pogge on the depth chart. Pogge is gone and it'll be Reimer and Joey MacDonald splitting time with the AHL Marlies. Keep an eye on him.