Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer has lost the starter's job to Jonathan Bernier, but despite not starting since Nov. 18, he stopped 41 of 42 shots Wednesday to steal two points in a 2-1 shootout win over Detroit:
That won't change his status with the Buds, who are committed to Bernier for now and the future, and Reimer is well-aware his best chance to start on a regular basis again lies outside Toronto. But where does Reimer rank among goalies who are or might be available on the market between now and the March 2 trade deadline? Let's have a look at who else is out there:
– Carolina's Cam Ward has a winning pedigree, but the 30-year-old's stock has plummeted in recent years and he still has another season left on his contract at a $6.3 million salary cap hit. He's played decently at times, but that salary alone will make teams in need of netminding hesitant to take a chance on him when there are cheaper options available.
– Los Angeles backup Martin Jones will be a restricted free agent next summer, and with the Kings facing a cap crunch, it's possible Dean Lombardi will move the 24-year-old Vancouver native. His stats this season (including a .947 save percentage and 1.42 goals-against average) have been phenomenal and he's got the size (6-foot-4) teams value in a puck-stopper. In terms of the price he could fetch and in his potential long-term upside, Jones is in many ways the best possible acquisition for teams to target. That is, if the Kings do decide to make him available.
– The Buffalo Sabres have a couple potential trade candidates in Jhonas Enroth and Michael Neuvirth. Both goalies are young enough (they're both 26), cheap enough (Enroth earns half of Neuvirth's $2.5 million salary this year), have played well enough on a sub-par Sabres squad this season, and have no commitments beyond this year (both are unrestricted free agents come summer). Buffalo GM Tim Murray is still in the early stages of rebuilding the franchise and may be willing to undercut the market price for goalies to stockpile assets for the years to come. Opponents could see either player as a low-risk, high-reward target.
– The slumping Ottawa Senators also have two goalies who could be had for the right price. The Sens signed both veteran Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner to contract extensions through the 2016-17 campaign, so if a team is looking for a cost-controlled gamble over the long term, one of these two may fit the bill. Anderson's numbers are better this season, but Lehner is a full decade younger.
Where does that leave Reimer? Not at the top of the heap as the most desirable (that would be Jones), but not at the bottom of the pile (it's hard to see any team taking on Ward thanks to his salary) either. Reimer is 26 and is signed next season at a $2.3 million cap hit, but his actual salary is $2 million, making him more attractive to a budget team looking to get to the cap floor. Teams will almost certainly show interest in his services, but if Leafs GM Dave Nonis is looking to bring in a huge haul in return – and if Reimer wants to set himself apart from a crowded field – he'll need to post a few more performances like the one he posted Wednesday.