After a quick audition as the Toronto Maple Leafs' No. 1 netminder, James Reimer has been sent back to further develop with the Leafs' AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.
Reimer, who had his first bad game against the Phoenix Coyotes on the tail end of a long road trip, leaves the Leafs with a tremendous .933 save percentage and sparkling 2.26 goals against average.
Comparatively, Jonas Gustavsson has a paltry .896 save percentage and 3.13 GAA, while J.S. Giguere has also struggled at times this season, posting a .894 save percentage and 2.80 GAA.
Complicating matters was the fact that if either Gustavsson or Giguere were sent down they would have to clear waivers once they re-entered. As much as both Giguere and Gustavsson have struggled this season, there would likely be an NHL team that would pick one if not both of these goalies up on re-entry waivers, especially when you consider said NHL club could do so at half the ticketed price tag.
For Reimer, he can take solace in the fact that he got an unexpected opportunity with the big club, performed admirably, and has taken his future status with the Buds to a whole new level, one that may see him get considerable attention for a spot as the Leafs' backup or possibly the No. 1 job as early as next season.
As good as Reimer was, the decision to send him back to the AHL was the right one. Losing Giguere (who could be a valuable trade commodity at the deadline or Gustavsson (whom many still feel is the Maple Leafs goalie of the future) for nothing would have put the Leafs in a further hole, this despite Reimer’s play suggesting he should have remained with the Buds.
Until next time,