Heading into the offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs have some major decisions to make concerning their goaltending situation. With the team vowing to go in a different direction from that of the past, the futures of James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier are likely up in the air.
Neither Reimer or Bernier have been the goaltender the Leafs were expecting and after a disappointing season from the latter, there are a lot of questions between the pipes.
One has to imagine that Brendan Shanahan and company will look at every option to make the Leafs a better team and that includes upgrading in net.
Reimer emerged from the ECHL in 2009 and after some solid time with the Toronto Marlies, was recalled to the Maple Leafs in 2010-2011 and has not looked back since. However, in five seasons with the Leafs, Reimer has just two winning years and has delivered postseason action once.
He’s under contract for another year, but after losing his starting job to Bernier, he’s made it known he is not exactly happy in Toronto.
Bernier took over the Leafs starting job in 2013-2014 after a trade freed him from the shadows of Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles. While his tenure in Toronto started off on the right foot, his play has been more hyped by the media than his actually performance on the ice has shown. He had a dismal season in 2014-15, which will undoubtedly affect what the Leafs pay him or rather they trade him.
The Leafs need to make a change between the pipes. They have two goaltenders, both of whom can arguably NHL starters, but neither has been able to lay claim to the starting job in Toronto.
It would not be shocking to see the Maple Leafs trade one of their two goaltenders this offseason for someone new. Bernier has the better numbers and has arguably played better than Reimer for longer stretches of time. However, his attitude and knack for letting in goals within the first two minutes of a hockey game has hurt his value.
Despite neither Leafs goaltender being at the top of their respective game, many believe the Leafs should trade Bernier to net a higher return.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that the Leafs will go ahead and trade Bernier, thus leaving them in the market for a new No.1 goaltender. Where do they turn?
One answer for the Maple Leafs could be St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. The 30 year-old veteran netminder might be available this summer.
Elliott, who still has two years left on a three-year deal worth $7.5 million, is reportedly upset with the Blues and is considering asking for a trade this offseason.
Last tweet: Got to talk to Brian Elliott. Felt like it was last time. No way I see him wanting to stay here. I believe he'll ask for trade.
— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) April 27, 2015
The veteran was once again given the reigns to the crease after the Blues let Ryan Miller walk in the offseason. Elliott took complete advantage of the new opportunity, finishing in the top-10 with a goals against average of 2.26 and five shutouts while being named to the All-Star roster for his efforts with the Blues.
However, with the Jake Allen in the mix, the writing on the was on the wall for Elliott in the postseason. Despite Elliott’s strong regular season, he saw just 26:11 of ice time in the first round of the playoffs.
Tempers got even more heated when Allen was given the keys to the postseason crease and stumbled numerous times without being replaced by Elliott.
It was the same story last season for Elliott. He backstopped the Blues to a playoff position, only to be replaced by Miller in hopes of a deeper playoff run. This season, Elliott was replaced by the younger Allen. Slightly ironic how the Blues never made it past the first round despite turning to other goaltenders over the guy who got them to the postseason in the first place.
Every year, Elliott battles hard during the regular season to prove to his team that he is the man to take the team to the next level. He puts up stellar numbers— he carries a .919 save percentage over the last two seasons—works hard, turns heads and is always benched in the postseason. After back-to-back seasons of this happening, Elliott might demand a trade to a team that will trust him enough to start some playoff games.
Elliott has done nothing wrong, yet has had the rug pulled out from underneath him twice now. If there is a more subtle way to let your goaltender know you do not trust him in the postseason, please pass the message on to the Blues. All Elliott wants is a chance and an organization that will trust him to prove himself.
Bernier wanted a chance to show that he was a No. 1 goaltender just as much as Quick. The Leafs took that gamble and gave him a chance. Now it’s time they bring in another veteran who can help take the Leafs to the next level.
Elliott is a goaltender who consistently knocks it out of the park in the regular season and is just looking for a chance to show he can compete in the playoffs. He just might be the perfect goaltender for the Maple Leafs.