Quick Thought On Reimer
The deadline for NHL teams to tender qualifying offers to their restricted free agents is 5 pm tomorrow. One of the Leafs’ RFAs is James Reimer. I think there is a real possibility that the Leafs will not tender a QO to James Reimer. I’m not saying that they definitely won’t, only that it’s something they may be considering. Here’s why:
As per section 10.2 (ii) (C) of the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (PDF):
if the Player’s prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary is equal to or greater than $1,000,000 for that League year, 100% of the prior year’s Paragraph 1 NHL Salary.
For Reimer, that means his qualifying offer will be for $1.6 million. The team could try to talk him down from that number after tendering the QO, but he has arbitration rights, which I would have to imagine he is very likely to use. The one reason he might not file for arbitration is that it would prevent the Leafs from trading him until such time as he signed a contract or arbitration was concluded, but I think given his relationship with the team and his complete lack of leverage otherwise, he’ll probably file for arbitration. I believe an arbitrator would award Reimer more than $1.6M, but it’s unclear exactly how much.
It’s also worth noting that Brendan Shanahan has said that the team has reached out to Martin Brodeur about signing with the Leafs. So it’s clear that the Leafs are actively trying to recruit a backup goalie for Jonathan Bernier. Are they willing to put themselves in a situation where James Reimer could either accept their QO outright or force salary arbitration while they try to recruit Martin Brodeur, effectively either blocking their ability to sign someone like Brodeur or forcing them to play Reimer in the minors and have part of his cap hit on the books anyway? That’s probably not the situation they want.
One other detail here that’s relevant is that James Reimer will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. If the Leafs don’t intend to play him this year (because they sign Brodeur, for example), they will not have the opportunity to trade him next year. If he’s not tradeable now (or in the middle of the season), then the team will be losing him for nothing next summer anyway. So the incentive to keep him around if you already have a plan to replace him is low.
None of this is to say that the Leafs definitely will not give Reimer a qualifying offer. But if they’re intent on moving on (and they seem to be, if they’re trying to recruit Brodeur), then I think it’s plausible that they’ll relinquish their RFA rights to sign James Reimer and let him become a UFA instead.
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