In his first year as a Panther, James Reimer was an important player for his new team. In fact, other teams might be willing to give Florida a lot in exchange for him. Should Florida listen to offers for Reimer?
During the 2015-2016 season, James Reimer was traded from the Maple Leafs to the Sharks. In San Jose, Reimer started 8 games as a backup to Martin Jones. However, Reimer was much more than a backup with the Panthers. He started the same number of games as his counterpart Roberto Luongo and had a better season statistically than Roberto did. If it weren’t for Reimer consistently giving solid starts, Florida’s season would have been much harder to watch than it was. He will also attract trade interest after ranking 11th in save percentage (among goalies who played 30+ games).
Obviously the Panthers aren’t going to give Reimer away just to get rid of him. With Luongo getting older and no other goalie currently on the roster, the goaltending for the Panthers would get quite precarious without James Reimer. But Florida’s biggest problem last season, other than injuries, was the failure to score goals.
The Cats tried to remedy the losses of Marchessault, Jokinen, Smith and possibly Jagr, by picking up Dadonov and Vrbata. Still, they could really use an elite like 30 goals per year goalscorer. Given the importance of the goaltending position, it’s quite possible that some teams in the NHL would be willing to offer the Panthers exactly that in exchange for Reimer.
If the Panthers were to make a move like this, who would replace Reimer? The Cats like what they have in young goalie Samuel Montembeault, but he’s only 20 and has never played an NHL game. It’s much more likely that Montembeault replaces Luongo when he retires than replacing Reimer right now. That seems to be where the options end.
Reto Berra, who filled in for Florida last year, is now an Anaheim Duck. The Springfield Thunderbirds, AHL affiliate of the Panthers, don’t even have a goalie on their roster right now. The best way to replace Reimer would probably be via trade; but then we must ask who Florida would give up.
Overall, we need to examine whether the trade would benefit the team as a whole. If the Cats deal Reimer for a scorer all their offensive problems might be over. But as a result goaltending would become a serious issue. In the end, the Panthers would just be patching one hole by creating another. If a team gives up goals easily they will probably miss the playoffs, no matter how great their offense may be.
Therefore, Florida shouldn’t even consider a package for Reimer unless it contains a reliable goalie in return. But would any team really give up a goalie and a scorer in exchange for another goalie? If so, the two players probably wouldn’t be good enough to make a significant impact on the Panthers. Selling high on James Reimer is an interesting idea, but it’s hard to see a scenario where it makes the Panthers a better team.