Entering in at number nine on the greatest goaltenders in Toronto Maple Leafs history is, James Reimer.
Last article I talked about who I thought was the 10th greatest goaltender in Toronto Maple Leafs history, which was, George Hainsworth. This article we will look at who I think is the ninth greatest goalie in Leafs history.
#9: James Reimer
James Reimer was drafted 99th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Leafs. Reimer would go on to play in junior/minor leagues for the next five seasons before getting his shot with the team. After making his debut on December 20th, 2010, Reimer would never play a game in the minors again.
Reimer made his NHL debut on December 20th, 2010, replacing an injured Jonas Gustavsson in the third period. On New Years Day, 2011, Reimer made his first start, winning the game 5-1 against the Ottawa Senators. He would finish the season 20-10-5 in 35 starts and was 10th in the league in Sv% (goalies with 30 games or more).
On New Years Day, 2011, Reimer made his first start, winning the game 5-1 against the Ottawa Senators. He would finish the season 20-10-5 in 35 starts and was 10th in the league in Sv% (goalies with 30 games or more).
The 2011-12 season was not a good one for Reimer. With a record of 14-14-4 and a GAA of 3.10, Reimer would probably want to forget this season. He had a Sv% of exacly .900 which is below average. The Leafs would finish in fourth last (they got Morgan Rielly so it wasn’t that bad) and wanted to move into the next season as quick as possible.
This season could be classified as Reimer’s true breakout campaign. Going 19-8-5 in 31 games (48 game season), Reimer was able to lead the Leafs to their first postseason since the 2003-04 season. With a Sv% of .924, Reimer would be ranked seventh in the league (for starters with 25 games or more). The team would go on to play seven games, losing to the Boston Bruins in a heartbreaking game seven (no details!), ending their season. This was the start of a new era for the team, with Reimer leading the charge.
Well that era didn’t last long. On June 23rd, 2013, the Leafs acquired Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings for Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens and a 2015 2nd round pick (Travis Dermott). This trade caused Reimer to split time with Bernier instead of being a full-time starter. With a record of 12-16-1, Reimer would lose the starting position and his confidence. The team would end up being eighth last in the league and we all know who the Leafs got with that pick.
Reimer starting became less and less. He now started 35 games, going 9-16-1, getting pulled in nine of those games. With a GAA of 3.16 and a Sv% of .907, Reimer’s confidence was gone. While his stats may not have been the greatest, he showed moments of brilliance and should have been given more opportunities.
While Reimer’s starts continued to drop, so did the team in the standings. In Reimer’s last season with the Leafs, he produced a record of 11-12-7 in 32 games. On February 27th, 2016, the Leafs traded fan favourite, Reimer and Jeremy Morin to the San Jose Sharks for Ben Smith, Alex Stalock, and a third round pick in 2018. This ended Reimer’s time in Toronto and was a sad moment for many Leafs fans.
While Reimer’s stats may not be the greatest, he was still a loved goalie by many Leafs fans. His amazing leg saves and dedication to the game are what brought us to love him so much. When Reimer was traded, it was for his shot at a new beginning. He would go on to make it to the finals with the Sharks and ultimately lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then, he would sign a five-year contract with the Florida Panthers.
As Reimer’s starts fell, so did the team in the standings. They went from the 21st pick to the eighth pick, to the fourth, pick, to the first pick, all in the span of four years. This shows how the Leafs gave up on Reimer and believed in a worse goalie in Bernier (spoiler, as you will see he is not on this list).
Thank you, Optimus Reim, from Leafs fans across the globe, you will be missed.