The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced a contract extension with goaltending rookie sensation James Reimer. After taking over the posts for the Leafs following injuries to both Jonas Gustavsson and J.S. Giguere, Reimer finished off the second half (better half) of the year with a 20-10-5 record, posting a 2.60 GAA and a 0.921 SV%.
It is believed to be a 3-year deal in the vacinity of $5.4M or roughly $1.8M to $2M per season. In keeping with my Leafs RFA/UFA predictions, I had this to say a few weeks ago:
It's amazing what a club can do with strong and consistent goaltending, and it's why most fans feel this team is a lock for the playoffs next season. This team will not be able to achieve that hope unless Reimer is locked up, and though he had a strong campaign, it's likely this small-town hero will be proving his value with a short-term contract that will earn him around the $2.5M range.
With such a small cap hit, the Leafs will have even more money to drive the free agent market this summer their way, not to mention the possibility (and likelihood) of J.S. Giguere returning to the club as a back-up to Reimer, taking a pay cut to do so (in and around $1.5M to $2.5M). While it still seems a bit pricey for a veteran back-up, Leafs general manager Brian Burke and Giguere have a ton of respect and history between them, and Giguere played last season through a series of groin injuries which greatly impacted his game.
If a healthy Giguere can come back and be a strong go-to guy should Reimer struggle in his sophomore campaign, the Leafs would have a solid base in net for nearly half the price they paid last season.
Next up - Luke Schenn.