Toronto Maple Leafs: Why James Reimer Is the Goalie They've Been Waiting for
Not since the days of Felix Potvin back in 1992 have the Toronto Maple Leafs had a young, dynamic starting goalie to suit up for them.
Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour and Vesa Toskala all made their careers elsewhere before coming to the Leafs years after the prime of their careers.
Sophomore goaltender James Reimer, who pulled off a 32-save shutout last night in the season opener, is exactly what the Leafs need. He's young, very promising and seems to be able to handle the immense pressure of playing goal in Toronto.
There is so much pressure on him, mostly due to the lackluster goaltending that Toronto has displayed in recent years. In fact, a Maple Leafs' goalie hasn't won the Vezina Trophy for the NHL's best goalie since 1965.
Reimer is quickly becoming one of the faces of the team and he seems to only get better with time. Here's why he's so valuable to the Maple Leafs.
He's a Winner
Reimer was the only goalie in the NHL last year to play less than 41 games (half the season) and finish with 20 wins.
His goals-against average of 2.6 wasn't spectacular, but he managed to lug out victories and did his best to keep Toronto in the playoff hunt.
This is what makes last night's shutout that much more meaningful. It's one thing to win the season opener, especially against Montreal, but to pick up the shutout when your team gets out-shot 32-18 is very telling.
Reimer is a solid goalie who knows how to get the W. That's what Toronto needs right now.
Reimer is only 23 years old and has already been handed the reins as the undisputed top goalie in Toronto.
It's been a long time since the Leafs have had this kind of faith in such a young guy and relied on him to help lead the team.
Regardless of the remaining speculation surrounding Reimer, it's safe to say that he is a very skilled goalie and is only getting better with age. The Leafs finally have a goalie who is entering his prime instead of leaving it.
He's the Result of Proper Drafting
One of the major problems that has plagued the Leafs in recent years, in addition to poor goaltending, has been poor drafting.
The fact that the Leafs found their No. 1 goalie 99th overall is evidence to the fact that there could be some hope for the team's scouting and drafting in general, and this could be the start of something big for the team.
Also, finding star goalies in the draft is not an easy task, especially those who are drafted in the fourth round. It's good to see that the Leafs have given Reimer the opportunity to start, as opposed to goalies drafted in the past who were simply traded away.
He Can Handle Playing Behind the Leafs
Toronto's defensive corps played relatively well Thursday night, but they still allowed 32 shots to reach Reimer and the net.
Luckily for them, Reimer seems to be completely cool, even when facing a ton of shots.
There are some goalies who play better the busier they are and the Leafs definitely need that type of player.
Reimer seems to fit that profile and, as evident from last night's game, Reimer is the perfect goalie for Toronto right now.
He Can Pull off a Shutout
Reimer has recorded four shutouts during his tenure with the Maple Leafs—one behind Vesa Toskala who played three seasons in Toronto.
Not only have Toronto goalies been suspect most of the time, but they also do not shut out many teams.
Since Ed Belfour left the team in 2006 and Reimer took over last year, all the goalies who played for the Leafs recorded a total of 14 shutouts, three less than Belfour had himself. Between Belfour and Curtis Joseph, Toronto recorded only two shutouts.
Reimer can get the win and stop all the shots while doing so, something that is a big boost of confidence for himself and his team in general.