Florida Panthers: Should the Cats Hold onto James Reimer?

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 14: Florida Panthers Goalie James Reimer (34) celebrates after a win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on February 14, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Florida won 4-3. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 14: Florida Panthers Goalie James Reimer (34) celebrates after a win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on February 14, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Florida won 4-3. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

At this present time, the Florida Panthers are thin on goaltending options and don’t have a whole lot to work with. Would moving James Reimer for the sake of creating cap space make sense?

To make it clear, in no way, shape, or form am I suggesting that the Florida Panthers are currently shopping goaltender James Reimer. For the sake of this exercise, I want to dig deeper and find out if it truly makes sense to part ways with the 30-year-old.

As you probably know, Reimer has just completed his second season with the Panthers last year and holds three years left on his current deal.

His 2017-18 campaign was a drop in play as he went from a .920 SV% in 2016-17 to a .913 SV% in 2017-18. To sum up his second season in Sunrise, Reimer’s year was featured with lots of highs and lows, as well as some inconsistent play.

But the main issue surrounding James Reimer and his future with the Cats isn’t so much his inconsistency in play, but more so with his contract. Back on July 1st, 2016, the Florida Panthers signed Reimer to a five-year contract, worth $3.4M/annually ($17M altogether).

I get what some of you are going to say, how could $3.4M be considered a lot in this current era? For those of you who think that, you’re absolutely right, $3.4M isn’t a whole lot for a player or a goaltender. But, we’re also talking about a backup goaltender and not a starter who features in 60+ games.

Reimer’s annual average salary (AAV) is quite a lot for a backup netminder. Not often do you find a team giving out that type of salary to a backup. But what’s more alarming with Reimer’s contract isn’t so much his salary, but more so with the term itself.

Five years total (with three years remaining) is too much for a second stringer. With James now 30 years of age, his contract will set to expire once he hits the age of 33. He certainly will play through his contract, but it can be said that it’s also a waste of cap space.

Don’t get me wrong, James Reimer isn’t a bad goaltender – but at the same time – he isn’t a great one, either.

At best, he’s a competent backup who can fill in when needed, which is what he’s doing currently with the Cats. But what he isn’t is a starter, and for the term/money he’s getting, I feel it could better be used and spent elsewhere.

But of course, what’s done is done, right? The Panthers can’t dwell on it and by no means is his contract on the level of someones like Dave Bolland’s. The Panthers can certainly live with his deal and make the most out of the situation.

With the Panthers looking to make the postseason next year, it would be wise to keep James Reimer, considering the lack of depth the Panthers possess in goal. The Panthers’ starter, Roberto Luongo, isn’t getting any younger. He’s 39 going on 40, and his expiry date is set to occur.

Part of the reason why keeping Reimer makes sense is based on Luongo’s health and age. With Roberto likely to go down with an injury of some sort during the upcoming year, the Panthers need someone to step right in and fill the crease.

Reimer has experience doing that, and he doesn’t do too bad of a job either. Sure, he’s inconsistent and his rebound control could improve, but when he’s on his game, he can win you games.

No goaltender in this league is perfect, as they all have their flaws in their game. But what you need is someone who’s experienced in this role, and that’s what you’re getting with Reimer.

Another reason for keeping Reimer would be hypothetically if the Panthers found their way into the playoffs, they need two goaltenders who they can rely on. You have your first with Luongo (assuming that he’s healthy), and you have your second with Reimer.

Unless the Cats think that someone like Michael Hutchinson will do the job, Reimer remains as the No. 2 option behind yours truly, Roberto Luongo.

Hutchinson has experience playing at both the NHL and AHL level, but unless he shows something that we haven’t already seen, the backup position for both the regular season and playoffs remains Reimer’s.

According to CapFriendly, the Panthers have $2.9M in cap space to work with, which isn’t much. After adding Bogdan Kiselevich, Mike Hoffman, and Michael Hutchinson to the roster, it took up a decent chunk of the space that the Cats had going into the offseason with. But with most of the essentials filled in, the need to create cap space at this current moment just isn’t necessary.

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Of course, if the Panthers were looking to bring in another piece that would immediately make the roster better, creating additional cap room would be advised.

But that likely isn’t going to happen, and it looks as if Tallon has crossed everything off from his summer wish list.

Florida needs James Reimer, whether you agree with it or not. Unless another goaltender is brought in who can serve as a better replacement than Reimer, dumping him serves no purpose.

When the time is right to offload Reimer’s contract and search for a better netminder, the green light should be given to simply move on.

But the time isn’t right to move on, the Panthers have a starter who’s set to retire in a year or two years time, with no real replacement found. We know that if Luongo goes down during the year, the need for Reimer could never be more.

I too dislike James’ contract and think that the term is a little much, but I realize that at this very moment the Cats cannot afford to lose Reimer, especially with little to no options to turn to in juniors or in the minors.

Next: Why the Florida Panthers are Playoff Bound in 2019

As I said before, when the time is right to offload James Reimer’s contract, you do it. But at this present moment, the time isn’t right, and whether you think his contract is great or not, the netminder still serves a purpose.