James Reimer and Other Goaltending Options
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
5 months ago
Yes, signing Evander Kane is a big priority for the Edmonton Oilers. But getting the goaltending situation sorted is way more important in my opinion. The Oilers will find ways to produce offence next season regardless of if Kane is in their lineup. But with Mike Smith’s future up in the air and Stuart Skinner sitting as the only other goaltender under contract, they need to shore up their situation between the pipes.
If they get this wrong, it could sink their season. It’s as simple as that.
The good news for the Oilers is that there are plenty of options both on the trade market and in free agency. There are younger options like Mackenzie Blackwood and Ville Husso. Stanley Cup winners like Darcy Kuemper and Marc-Andre Fleury. Big names like John Gibson. And others like Semyon Varlamov and Jack Campbell.
It’s worth noting that Mark Spector is reporting that Fleury isn’t interested in Edmonton and Gibson likely has the Oilers on his no-trade list. Pierre LeBrun has reported that he expects the Oilers to be one of the up to ten teams who will call Husso’s camp.
Today, I want to focus on a player that emerged as a potential option earlier this week: James Reimer.
The San Jose Sharks have three goalies under team control next season: James Reimer, Kappo Kahkonen, and Adin Hill. None of them are waiver eligible so it makes sense that they’ll be looking to move one of those three and since Reimer is the most veteran, him being the odd man out is likely.
There was some talk at last season’s trade deadline about James Reimer being a potential fit with the Edmonton Oilers and honestly, I didn’t really think it made sense. I wanted GM Ken Holland to aim a little higher and Reimer was a little bit too much of a lateral move in my opinion.
Now that Mike Smith is likely out of the picture, I think I’m starting to come around to the idea that he could actually be a really good fit for this team.
Yes, there are more attractive pieces on the market like Darcy Kuemper, Ville Husso, and Jack Campbell. But there is one thing that Reimer could give the Oilers that really none of those other three options can: a chance to be a bargain.
Reimer carries a cap hit of just $2.25 million. The other three will all likely cost north of $5 million per season on a long-term deal. At 34 years old, Reimer is also older than the three free agent options I mentioned but he’s coming off a tremendous season.
This past year with the Sharks, Reimer played a career-high 48 games and posted a .911 save percentage to go along with a 2.90 goals-against average. He did that all on a team that gave up the eighth-most scoring chances against at 5v5 (via NaturalStatTrick). He had a really solid season and I don’t see much of a reason why he couldn’t come to Edmonton and put up similar numbers.
Darcy Kuemper is probably the best option on the market and while he will be much more expensive than Reimer, I do think that the Oilers would be wise to explore the idea of signing him.
We’ve also heard Ville Husso’s name connected to the Oilers, but I’ll be honest, I’m not 100% sold on Husso.
Like I said earlier, there are reports suggesting that as many as ten teams will be calling Husso’s camp and when I hear that, I automatically start to think that there will be a bidding war and this player will get overpaid. Also, he’s only played 64 career NHL games if you include the playoffs.
Is it smart for this Oilers team to head into this season with a goaltending duo that has both guys with under 100 career games played? I really don’t think so.
It could work, but it’s risky. Husso could show that last season wasn’t a fluke and he’s ready to be a number one goalie that played 50-55 games a season. But you’re going to have to pay market value for him and there are no guarantees.
While Reimer isn’t the sexiest name available, he’s dependable. He’s played 13 seasons in the league and had a save percentage better than .905 in 11 of those years. His goals-against average has only crept above 3.00 once in the last eight seasons. He consistently gets good results.
Also, don’t sleep on what the saved cap space from a Reimer deal vs a high-end free agent signing can do for a team. That extra $2.5-3.5 million could be the difference between bringing back Brett Kulak or even having enough money to sign a player like Evander Kane.
Here’s a good way to put it. Which of these options would you take?
A – James Reimer and Evander Kane
B – Ville Husso and a $4 million winger (there aren’t many good options in this price range out there)
I don’t think the Reimer/Kane option is a slam dunk great decision, but it’s the option I would choose.
Of course, the market will also shape how the Oilers act. If Husso could be had for $4 million per season, then I think you should really consider it. If his AAV creeps close to $5 million, then I’d be hesitant. On the other hand, if the Sharks want Jesse Puljujarvi or a second-round pick for Reimer, I’d stay away. If the cost is a fourth-round pick or a lower level prospect, then I’d be all over it.
People seem to automatically dismiss the idea of Reimer because he maybe doesn’t have a championship pedigree or hasn’t been talked about as a legit number one goalie, but he is not an option that the Oilers front office should be dismissing. They should think long and hard about making a move for the veteran netminder.
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