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Reimer vs Bernier — Who ya got?

Aug 8, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT

James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs guards the net during an NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on March 17, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
(March 16, 2012 - Source: Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

For the first time in what seems like a very long time, goaltending isn’t expected to be a weakness for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With James Reimer, 25, and Jonathan Bernier, 24, between the pipes next season, the Leafs will have one netminder who boasted a .924 save percentage in 2013 (Reimer) and another (Bernier) who was only slightly less efficient, at .922.

In fact, new MLSE president Tim Leiweke believes the Leafs “have the best tandem of goalkeepers in the NHL.”

Still, questions remain.

Lots of questions.

Like: If Reimer had such a good year, why did the Leafs feel the need to give up forward Matt Frattin, backup Ben Scrivens and a second-round pick to get Bernier out of L.A., where he was stuck behind Jonathan Quick? Does management have something against Reimer, or does Bernier simply just increase the team’s odds of getting quality goaltending?

“It makes you feel a bit doubted as a goalie,” Reimer admitted, per the Toronto Sun.

“You just have to focus on what you can control and believe in yourself.”

Another question: What has Bernier really proven? He’s only started 54 regular-season games in the NHL. He’s never felt the pressure that number ones feel at the highest level. He’s never started a playoff game. And when it comes to media scrutiny, Toronto is a tad more intense than Los Angeles.

When Bernier was acquired, Leafs general manager Dave Nonis suggested that the starting job was open for competition.

“Nothing is being guaranteed to anybody,” Nonis said, per the Toronto Star. “It’s a situation where we feel we’re deeper. We feel they both have great potential.

“We feel we have two of the top young goaltenders in the league right now. Both we feel have the potential to be solid No. 1s.”

And really, it’s hard to argue with that. Neither Reimer nor Bernier cost much in the way of cap hit; the former’s is $1.8 million next season, the latter’s $2.9 million. If one falters, that’s what the other is there for. If both play well, the Leafs have a nice trade chip to play down the road.

And if both falter? Well, there’s always that possibility. But then, that exists for every team. Goaltending is a tough thing to predict. Just look at the St. Louis Blues — they got fantastic performances from their netminders in 2011-12 (.929 save percentage); this past season, not so much (.902).

“Overall, I felt I played well this past season,” said Reimer. “I feel like I’ve established myself as a No. 1 goalie in this league.”

But he’ll have to re-establish himself in 2013-14, because there’s another guy now.

“I’ve been waiting for that, to get my chance,” Bernier said. “When you get your chance, you’ve got to take it.”

Related: It’s Toronto Maple Leafs on PHT

  1. jacketsfan7 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:21 PM


  2. withseidelinn - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    I really don’t know much about Bernier except for that fact that he’s got a lot of potential. If Reimer at the very least plays at the level he played against Boston in the 1st round, he will be an excellent goaltender and very hard to beat out for the starting gig. Which poses the question – will Berner stick around if he’s still the backup after 2 years?

    • jcmeyer10 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      Exactly, then TOR is stuck like LAK’s were. Not saying Remier is Quickie by any means but TOR will be stuck with a guy who wants to start.

      This time his stock will take a bigger hit given not many goalies would start over Quickie. So if he can’t beat out Remier then TOR is stuck trying to get a smaller return than they paid out.

      I hope that made sense.

      • withseidelinn - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:43 PM

        I agree completely. I’d love to know Nonis’ exit strategy if they both become legitimate starters. I’d have to imagine they would be inclined to go with Reimer since he is homegrown. But who knows, that’s purely a guess.

    • tdrusher225 - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      Reimer was a rebound machine and extremely shaky in the pivotal moments of the series against Boston. I’d be a little worried with him as my goalie.

  3. brandon998 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    I know Bernier has like a 9-3-1 record, but this is how I see it.
    I think LA’s defense was a big part of Bernier’s save percentage.
    Take a look at Reimer and Bernier’s last regular season wins.
    Reimer’s last win was against Florida where he stopped 34 of 34 shots.
    Bernier’s last win was against Minnesota where he stopped 23 of 23 shots. Ok so they both got shutouts, let’s look at their second last win.
    Reimer stopped 49 of 50 shots against Ottawa.
    Bernier stopped 13 of 15 shots against Dallas.
    Now Ottawa is obviously a much better team than Dallas. Despite that, Bernier still gave up more goals than Reimer, even though Reimer faced 3x more shots. Also, that one save Reimer didn’t make was because of a bad giveaway in their own zone. Given Toronto’s defense, I think Bernier is going to be struggling in that goal crease.
    I’m betting on Reimer for #1 next season, and I think people should have more faith in him. If he was on a team with good defense he would be seen as an elite goaltender.

    • mathieug79 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      What people don’t understand, despite better number if James Riemer becomes #1, Jonathan Bernier will be traded again. He wanted out of LA so he could prove everyone that he is a true #1 Goalie. Its a lose-lose situation for the Leafs if they play Riemer as a #1, then Jonathan Bernier won’t be able to prove his worth, then will demand to be traded again and his value would take a dive due to not playing enough games.

      #1 Goalie is Jonathan Bernier’s job to lose in my opinion, why trade a package of young guys (Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens, ect) for a Goaltender (who was an RFA at the time) that will play as a backup??

      I know Leafs fan love Riemer, and have every right to love him. He has a hell of a season, and deserves credit for it! This trade has puzzled me from the day it was announced. Being a Tampa Bay fan, having 2 guys like Riemer and Bernier on your team is a great problem to have…

      • sunderlanding - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:34 PM

        I disagree. Riemer is unproven and inconsistent. Sure he wasn’t the only one to blame for their game seven collapse, but he is most certainly one of the ones to blame. He couldn’t make a save in the last ten minutes. He carries a lot of the blame for that, not all, like I said, but definately a good chunk. Between the two of them they should be able to manage one decent NHL starter. They are both young and both have potential. Either way Toronto should come away with one NHL starter, and that is definately a win for them, especially because they didn’t give up much to get him.

    • sjsblitz - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:53 PM

      Its like judging Ward vs Rask. Carolina has crap defense, but Ward is stellar. Is Rask really as great as most see him, or are the B’s defense just getting the job done. Toronto is gonna be very interesting to watch next season. Being a fan of the West I see more of Bernier than I do Reimer so i’d go with him. That and that meltdown in game 7 of TOR-BOS is hard to not overlook, not a great display of handling pressure

      • thesportsjudge - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        There is a difference between not handling pressure and being completely hung out to dry by your teammates.

      • withseidelinn - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:48 PM

        I agree with your point how Rask’s numbers may be slightly lower from playing on another team with weaker defense, but you also have to look at the skill level he is at right now considering the limited experience he has. And I would say the game 7 collapse is purely 50/50 between Reimer and the rest of the team. They couldn’t get out of their zone, weren’t blocking shots at all, but Reimer also needs to have those saves when it counts. I still think it is somewhat of a good learning experience and I hope Reimer can build on his play from the first round.

    • sunderlanding - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      Toronto does have good defense. Sure they give up a lot of shots, but none of them are prime scoring chances. If you look at the stats most of the shots Toronto gave up were from the outside. Not many in close grade A scoring chances. They were one of the better teams last year when it came to that.

  4. dueman - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    You guys a all funny, specially mathieug79, with his lose-lose scenario lol. Toronto gave up pretty much nothing to get Bernier. The biggest piece was a second round draft pick. Scrivens was obviously going in the trade, and as much I liked Frattin, let’s be real, he’s a third line player that has had operations on both knees once, and one knee twice. Nobody knows what either goalie thinks, lol, and nobody knows what’s going to happen. If Bernier continues to play at the level he has been (and there is no reason he shouldn’t) then his stock will not go down, whether he wants to leave of not. This is far from a lose-lose scenario for the Leafs. Personally I’m going with who ever wants the starting job more!

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:17 PM

      I think it’s hilarious how haters make everything out to be the end of the world for Toronto. Scrivens vs Bernier in net, no question who is better. Frattin vs Clarkson on RW, again no question who is better. Checking line C, Grabovski vs Bolland, should be no question… but I don’t think enough people watched the playoffs.

      The only hole in the roster that appears to be a downgrade is MacArthur’s 3rd line LW spot… and it’s funny, no one ever even mentions it. Maybe they’re afraid to talk about the good prospects that will be getting a chance to play because of that roster ‘hole’.

  5. sideburntt - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Toronto apparently outbid several other teams, gave up a decent package, and took back salary. It would not make sense to pay this much of a package for a back up, especially with a tema that has other needs. It will be Bernier’s job to lose. Not to mention the leafs can’t be any worse when it comes to shoot outs (0-5 last year for riemer). When riemer is on he looks really good, when he loses he lets in atleast 4 goals, which is not good enough. (16 of Reimers 18 loses the leafs gave up 4 or more)

  6. DED - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Maybe the Leafs come away with a great goalie tandem like Chicago did this past season.

  7. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    The way I see it, last season the Leafs had Reimer and Scrivens to start the season. Which wasn’t bad, but when Reimer was injured Scrivens struggled.

    Bernier is a big upgrade over scrivens. Reimer is a good goalie, but Bernier will push him a lot harder to keep that starting job. Having two good goalies for under $5M is not a bad deal.

    Worst case scenario: you have to trade one. Not a big problem to have with goalies this young. It won’t be like trying to trade a Luongo.

    And I don’t hear the St Louis Blues complaining about having too many good goalies… and they have three. Jaro Halak, Brian Elliott and Jake Allen. Why isn’t that a controversy? Oh right… because it’s not Toronto.

  8. kingsforever - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Anyone who actually watches hockey will pick the goalie with the proper technique, Le Bernièr

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:06 PM

      …or more likely the one that wins.

      Unorthodox styles are fine, as long as you win. Hasek, Thomas, Brodeur are proof of that.

  9. kingsforever - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    Hey Brandon998 if you knew anything, you’d know that Bernièr never lost a start. He lost games that he came halfway in for Quick. But no, let’s over analyze one game….

  10. scotloucks - Aug 8, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    I like Reimer (seriously, how could you not?)
    But he has problems with his glove and with his rebound control.

    He may well be the worst puck handler in the NHL as well.

    I think he was rushed into the NHL as he was the best the Leafs had at the time and did a more than adequate job (although he seems a little injury prone).

    That doesn’t mean he can’t and won’t get better. As for Bernier …. the trade and the contract say that the starting job is his to lose. Maybe, with any luck, they will have a tandem, splitting the job down the middle. Something that Toronto hasn’t had in a long long time.


    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      I agree with most of what you said, but disagree about Reimer being rushed. His numbers were phenomenal up until Gionta gave him that cheap shot.

      It took him a while to get back at 100%, his stats suffered a little during that time, but I think we got a glimps of the good old Reimer in the playoffs. Bernier has his work cut out if he wants that starting role.

      Reimer is a positive team guy anyways. He’s not going to pout and stop trying because he has better competition. Reimer can’t feel too bad anyways having the job stolen, He stole the job in the first place. Giguere and Gustavsson suddenly became expendable.

      • scotloucks - Aug 9, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        His numbers may have been good (great even) but that doesn’t discount the fact that he has a weak glove, problems with rebound control and can’t handle the puck very well.

        All things that can be learned/taught/worked on at the AHL level.


      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 9, 2013 at 5:52 PM

        I don’t think Reimers numbers are even the issue. It’s more his health. He’s been in and out of the lineup a few times since his concussion. Scrivens was an ok back up to fill in a game here or there, but the longer Reimer was out, the more Scrivens struggled.

        Going into this season with Bernier and Reimer give the Leafs that insurance if one of them gets injured. Something they didn’t quite have with Scrivens. I like Reimer, Reimer is a good goalie, but if Bernier turns out to be even better, I fail to see the problem for the Leafs. If didn’t cost the team all that much.

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