2016 NHL Free Agent Target: James Reimer
Do the Stars dare pursue another goalie this offseason? Don't they kind of have to?
Last offseason, the Dallas Stars traded for the negotiating rights to Antti Niemi and subsequently signed him for 3 years. The already cumbersome contract of Kari Lehtonen made this a fairly risky move but the team trusted Niemi's career numbers. Niemi outperformed expectations early in the season and faltered down the stretch. That was okay, because Kari Lehtonen got hot at the end of the season.
And then, they both had an accident in the bed just days apart.
The Blues series "exposed" the Dallas goalies. Both of them. Neither goalie seemed to make a save when the team desperately needed one.
Enter: Optimus Reim.
James Reimer had played his entire career in Toronto before being traded to the Sharks at the trade deadline last season. The 28-year old has a career save percentage of .914, and has started 188 games in his 6 years in the NHL.
Last offseason while the Stars were trading a 7th round pick to negotiate with and sign Niemi for 3 years at $4.5 million per year, James Reimer was sitting up by the fire late at night, mentally preparing to play the Dallas Stars. By the time the Stars visited Toronto on November 2nd, Reimer was ready.
He saved 43 of 44 shots, an absolute barrage by Dallas. Anyone who watched this game remembers Reimer making impossible save after impossible save. It was a stomach punch to a hot Stars team. They had been Reimered for the first time.
Eight days later, the Leafs came to the American Airlines Center and Reimer had an off night in goal. This time he only stopped 36 of 38 attempts, but his team was able to give him some run support. The Leafs won that game 3-2.
James Reimer's career save percentage against the Dallas Stars is .963. So, you might say that he has made a good impression on Stars' fans.
The situation in the Dallas goal needs to be resolved. Reimer is a player that can check off some boxes in that department.
San Jose acquired Reimer at the trade deadline for a fourth round pick. No prospects. No roster players. Not even a bag of pucks. He started 8 games for the Sharks posting a .938 save percentage. It is amazing what not playing for the Leafs can do for a guy. That is part of what makes him so impressive.
His rental to San Jose allowed Reimer to show what he can do behind an actual hockey team, so how much will he get paid? His cap hit last season was $2 million. That is a small number. Though that number will probably rise, it won't exactly be Kari Lehtonen money.
Perhaps the bigger question is: how would Dallas make it work?
Given Reimer's UFA status, it would seem that the only solution is a buy out of Lehtonen or Niemi. Do the Stars really want to go down that road? Jim Nill has publically said he will not be buying anyone out, but I am not sure that's a good strategy.
Buying out Lehtonen or Niemi would be fairly humiliating and the team would have to take a ghost cap hit for the privilege, but is Jim Nill really willing to roll the dice with the current tandem in net? Spezza, Sharp, Benn, and Seguin aren't getting any younger. The core is there, and it is everyone else's job to not actively hurt the team. Windows aren't open for long in the NHL and the Stars' window is open.
Reimer offers the team a chance to get younger in net with a goalie that has something to prove. He was thrown out of Toronto and sat behind Martin Jones for the Stanley Cup run in San Jose. Jeff Reese is a good goalie coach in Dallas. In vacuum, Reimer would be a great fit for Dallas.
How will the Dallas Stars tend to the situation in net? Is James Reimer the answer?