Could James Reimer be coming home? It seems by all accounts he wants out of Toronto, could that mean a homecoming for the Manitoba native? Well, it could. The Jets need an upgrade between the pipes, and that’s been ever so apparent in the Jets' first three seasons.
In three years Ondrej Pavelec has not taken the Jets to the playoffs and has come nowhere near meeting the standards that were expected to come alongside his large contract. Despite that, all signs are pointing to Pavelec returning to the Jets. If Pavelec isn’t going anywhere, someone needs to come in and battle him for the starting job. Adding Reimer to a stable that already includes Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson would make for depth at the goalie position. A trio of Pavelec, Reimer and Hutchinson entering training camp sounds okay to me.
James Reimer led the Leafs to the playoffs two seasons ago, he has proven he can be a starter in the NHL and in my opinion he could beat out Pavelec for the Jets' starting job. Along with that, Reimer presents a rather safer option than Hutchinson. Hutchinson is ready to be an NHLer, but with the flexibility of having a two-way contract in the first year of his new deal, he would have to clear waivers if the Jets called him up then sent him back down. He most likely will have to start in the AHL because of that.
A case could be made that a Reimer, Hutchinson pairing would be better than a Pavelec + Reimer pairing and in my opinion this is true. Unfortunately, it seems as though moving past Pavelec isn't in the cards. The buyout window has closed and any trade of Pavelec, would likely require the Jets to eat some serious salary. Even with that, the market for Pavelec could be a ghost town.
Reimer needs a fresh start. Since being dethroned in Toronto by Jonathan Bernier - the year after leading the team to the playoffs - Reimer has seemingly lost his edge. His role with the Leafs slowly decreased as Bernier took the ball and ran with it. Down the stretch, Reimer struggled.
Cheveldayoff needs to look at the numbers. When Al Montoya was the Jets backup goaltender he had much better numbers than Pavelec, yet Pavelec was still given the starting duties and the majority of the workload.
2013-2014 Jets goalies by the numbers
Al Montoya 2.30 GAA, .920 SV%
Ondrej Pavelec 3.01 GAA, .901 SV%
Reimer vs Pavelec by the numbers
Reimer .914 SV%, 2.85 GAA
Pavelec .906 SV%, 2.96 GAA
The numbers don't lie. Reimer's career average save percentage matches Ondrej's highest season total. One goalie has done little to help his team over the last three seasons. Some would go so far as to suggest he has kept them out. The other was arguably the sole reason his team made the playoffs just two years back. The former could likely be signed to a reasonable contract, and is supposedly available for little more than a mid-round pick.
James Reimer should be an ideal fit for the Winnipeg Jets.
One has to wonder if there is really any room to add a goalie. The Jets don't appear to have any interest in moving past Ondrej. They also have a high level prospect in Michael Hutchinson waiting in the wings. If the Jets don’t move Ondrej Pavelec, fine. It still makes sense to bring in someone like Reimer. Reimer could legitimately compete with and probably (in my opinion) win the job.
Then again, one has to wonder if that is even in the cards.
Last year, Montoya completely outplayed Pavelec and despite that, Pavelec continued to operate the crease. If the Jets were to bring in Reimer, would he be given a real shot? By the numbers, Reimer is a better goaltender than Pavelec. Even last season, which was not one of Reimer's best, saw him post numbers that were superior to Ondrej's career average.
The Jets goaltending situation continues to be surrounded by many questions. Will the Jets find someone to beat out Ondrej Pavelec? Will they allow this to happen? Is Michael Hutchinson ready play in the NHL? Will Pavelec continue to be the Jets' starting goalie? Could the Jets trade for James Reimer?
Regardless, the Jets should seriously look at bringing in Reimer. He would provide a substantial upgrade to the Jets at a very important position. At minimum it would create an interesting training camp battle that I believe Reimer could win.
Should the Jets be in the market for James Reimer?