If Bernier’s for real, trading James Reimer might make sense
If Bernier turned out to be what he is at least beginning to appear to be — if he turned out to be what Lombardi says he expects him to become, which is an elite NHL starter — it’s worth thinking about what it could mean for the Leafs.
It could turn them into something they haven’t been since they employed the likes of Ed Belfour and Curtis Joseph. It could put them in a position where they could play five games, not perform particularly well in any of them, and string together four wins. It could mean the Maple Leafs explore a trade that includes James Reimer, since there’s no point in keeping around a perfectly deal-able No. 1-calibre talent when you’ve got holes in the lineup. There are plenty of teams looking for goaltenders and defencemen — heck, one will be at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night. Wouldn’t a package of Reimer and the still-not-extended Dion Phaneuf render a choice young asset from, say, the Oilers?
If you want to irritate a hockey coach, of course, begin trade discussions around key pieces.
“Competition for the position brings the best out of pro athletes,” Carlyle said Friday, offering a window into why he doesn’t like to anoint a No. 1. “I believe that. Some people might not believe that. I believe that.”