Maple Leafs goalie debate back in focus

At times during Toronto’s 4-1 win on Saturday night against Pittsburgh, James Reimer’s head was spinning around like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist.

Trying to track the Penguins, most notably Sidney Crosby, Evegni Malkin and a few other creative forces, is hard on a goalie’s neck.

But Reimer made 37 saves, while 14 Penguin pucks missed the mark. Reimer survived at least one more episode with a cement glove to improve his record to 4-0-2 against the powerful Pens.

“They are arguably the best players in the world and they bring it every time they come to play,” Reimer said. “I’m just lucky enough that my teammates step up and play big games. I don’t know if it has as much to do with me as the guys in front of me working their butts off.”

Indeed, the Leafs demonstrated some quick sticks to thwart shots or break up odd-man rushes.

Once more, a stellar game by one of the Leafs’ net duo has created debate on who is No. 1 or at least who starts the first of a three-game road trip on Tuesday in Edmonton. With back-to-backs, it’s likely Jonathan Bernier would go Wednesday in Calgary if coach Randy Carlyle sticks with Reimer. The better of the two would be in line to play in Vancouver on Saturday.

67 Responses to Maple Leafs goalie debate back in focus

  1. LN91 says:

    Does it really matter? They both give us a chance any night. I’m not faulting Bernier’s Columbus lost on him. The Leafs, once again, were dreadful that night.

    How about more pressure on other members on this squad? Goaltending is shockingly the strength of this team.

    • doorman says:

      Yup, it is good to not have that rotting feeling in your gut before a game or in the last 10 mins of the 3rd with a lead. I think long term it is good for both as they will get to play and learn together. That being said, with Nonis having traded for Bernier, I think he will be the last man standing eventually.

  2. leafs_wallace93 says:

    Leafs should find a goaltender in the off season and trade them both for good return.

  3. leafy says:

    Just let it play out. Let it resolve on its own volition.

    Don’t interfere. Just like puberty, let it happen naturally.

  4. leafy says:

    Liles has been called up. Smart move. If I was Carlyle, I’d scratch Ranger and insert Liles.

    Trade Ranger to the Rangers, or whatever fits.

    • mojo19 says:

      Ranger has a no trade clause. Will only play for Toronto. He retired because he only wanted to play here. We can scratch him, but not trade him.

      And I agree, get Liles in for Ranger. Liles isn’t so bad. He’d be fine as a 3rd pairing dman.

      • glotz_99 says:

        Ya I was hoping Ranger would accept a trade to Edmonton once Fraser is back. The oilers have been looking for a d-man for a while and tried to sign ranger in the offseason, but he chose to stay in Toronto. Leafs should free up a million in cap space and pick up a draft pick, cause I doubt they will resign him at the end of the year.

      • leafy says:

        I forgot about the no trade clause.

        Why must there always be a problem?

  5. razer1818 says:

    Is it not a coincidence that the first time JM Liles is called up happens to be on a Western Road swing that involves Both Edmonton & Calgary. Both teams need help on D and Calgary is Brian Burke’s new team. I think that you will see a trade before the Vancouver game Saturday. Leafs only have the cap space because of Bozak is on LTIR.

    • LN91 says:

      And thank God for that…He’s been horrible this year, maybe the worst Leaf.

      Team looked better without him in the lineup, and with Kadri moving to first-line duties.

      Except, depth becomes an issue now.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      This isn’t true I don’t think. Bozak is on IR, not LTIR. If he’s not on LTIR it doesn’t save cap space. We have space because we’re paying for Lile’s cap hit when he’s the the minors anyways, minus 900k of it. So with Liles coming up, his cap hit is only an additional 900k, which is the same as calling up any of the rookies pretty much.

  6. leafy says:

    I heard the Leafs are interested in Paul Stastny.

  7. LN91 says:

    Apparently, Phaneuf wants 8-years for $7 million per. STARTING.

    Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are the only D-Men that earn more if it goes through…And I would take one of those 2 any day of the week over Phaneuf, preferably Suter.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      Such a bad situation. We can’t afford to trade him as we need him to make the playoffs. But if we pay him 7+ and he goes back to bone-head dion, that’s an awful contract.

      • doorman says:

        exactly, I mean I think we can make the playoffs without him, but it hurts us even if most disagree. The problem truly becomes who do you replace him with? I know everyone says he is this or that in terms of no good and not even a top pairing dman some claim. But seriously name 30 dmen better then him? THis is a tough situation for shizzle.

        • LN91 says:

          He’s not a $7 million defencemen….Anything 6.5 and above should be reserved for the elite in this league, he ain’t that.

          • LN91 says:

            For example, I would take Bieksa at 4.6 million then Phaneuf at 7 million.

            • doorman says:

              I am not arguing that, even in the least, but do you think the Nucks are going to trade him? I also don’t think Bieksa is a #1 dman. Like I said problem i see is who do you replace him with if you don’t resign him?

            • mapleleafsfan says:

              With leafs scouts at the buffalo game last night (since vanek trade), do you think they are looking at Erhoff? His cap his is awesome, but he’s a little old. If we could get Erhoff, I would be OK with shelling out a little more money to Phaneuf. That’s a solid top pairing, and if it was Phaneuf at 7, and erhoff at 4, an average of 5.5 for your top line isn’t that bad at all. Just depends how long they can sustain their play for. If they both slide, having 11 mil for 2nd/3rd line D isn’t bad.

              That said, I read on hfboards that Erhoff has been payed something like half of his 40 mill already. At least his his play drops, you can pawn him off on some team that needs to hit the floor but doesn’t want to spend the cash.

              Would anyone do something like Percy, 1st, Liles (for salary) for Erhoff? Maybe throw in Biggs or someone if that’s not enough.

  8. mapleleafsfan says:

    Lol apparently Vanek was offered to the leafs before the NYI trade. Not that it would be worth it, but can you imagine our forwards.

    Kessel – Bozak – JVR
    Lupul – Kadri – Vanek
    Raymond – Bolland – Clarkson
    Kulemin – Mcclement – Orr

    Deadliest forward lineup in the league. It’s really too for us there’s a salary cap.

  9. leafy says:

    You can bet your mother’s milk that Morgan Rielly was one of the players Buffalo wanted in return.

  10. leafy says:

    Now I’m glad the Leafs added Bernier, but I just wanted to point out Scrivens’ work so far in L.A.

    Last year I argued he was a damn good goalie, and wasn’t quite getting the credit he deserved. In fact, he was discredited by a lot of fans.

    As Don Cherry recently pointed out online, check out these stats so far:

    Scrivens – 1.22 GAA and .939 save %.
    Quick – 2.53 GAA and .907 save %.

    Now Scrivens has played only 3 games, but still, pretty impressive numbers so far on a team that allows far fewer shots.

    • Gambo says:

      I personally wasn’t ever comfortable with Scrivens in net. He was rebound city and had the sketchiest glove hand in the league. But yeah his numbers weren’t bad and he found a way most nights.

      I haven’t watched any LA games yet, so I can’t really argue against his numbers because they’re really impressive. But Don Cherry was only saying that because Quick is American and he has the constant need to bash anything non Canadian reflated to hockey. Don has lost it in the last few years, he’s way too biased.

  11. Gambo says:

    Phaneuf has been playing like a 7m defenseman this year and would easily make that on the open market. But that’s probably too expensive for Toronto. They can replace him from within offensivley (Franson, Gardiner, Rielly, Liles), but they definitely can’t replace what he brings defensively. If they could get a return that brings in a guy like Girardi, that might be the best option.

    Hopefully they can resign him with a lower cap hit though.

  12. toronto77 says:

    Phaneuf is nowhere near 7mil, but if we let him walk or trade him than who do we replace him with?

    I just scoured through all the dmen in the league and there are not many options, as most of top dmen are going nowhere as they are on teams that are playoff or cup contenders.

    Unless we make a big trade for a Dougie Hamilton, Griffin Reinhart, Trouba, Adam Larsson, Gudbranson, Bogosian, something along those lines. But I don’t see those players going anywhere.

    Sometimes as bad as Dion may look, he has improved this season and there are not many options. So unfortunately we may have to pay him what he wants.

    Kadri looks great so far as the no.1 C in 2 games with Kessel and JVR. Kadri is better than Bozak in every aspect of the game, it isn’t even close!

    If we trade Bozak and his 4mil contract that would clear up more room for Phaneuf, and at the point I would be more willing to give Dion his money.

    I keep telling everyone, let Rielly and Gardiner get comfortable and develop more and than pair one of them with Phaneuf. The offence from one of those two would take a shit load of pressure off of Phaneuf to put up points or chip in offensively, and he can just concentrate on playing a simple stay at home physical game.

    Until the leafs start losing bad, Phaneuf-Gunnar will remain as the top pairing. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    • leafy says:

      Great points TO77. The Leafs are in a bind because they can’t afford to pay $7 mil, but also can’t afford to see him walk away either. It would be a much easier decision if the Leafs were like Edmonton and headed for another lottery pick.

      While Gardiner and Rielly are highly talented, they’re not yet ready to lead the blueline in high pressure games and I’d would be worried to see Phaneuf leave without a replacement added.

  13. mojo19 says:

    Phaneuf should get $5-5.5 million. That’s it. Fuck off with this $7+ million bullshit.

    And I will give him credit, he’s having a great season, but come on.

    • leafy says:

      They should make him that offer and tell him he’s not Chara.

    • Gambo says:

      You know there will be at least one other team that will offer him 7 million on a 7 year deal. If he wants to play in Toronto as much as he says he does, you’ll have to assume he can go lower to stay.

      Would you keep him at 6.5 million (what he’s making now) for 7 years? That’s as high as I’d go to resign him.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      Defencemens salarys are really all over the place.

      Phaneuf is a $6-6.5 defencemen. 7 million has him making less than only Campbell, Suter and Weber. Suter and Weber are obviously better, and Campbell is clearly overpaid.

      6.5 would put him with younger top tier Dmen, but they all signed as RFAs so it’s understandable they make less than their market value.

      If Phaneuf makes 7 mill, the next round of D contracts is going to be absurd. I appologize in advance to habs fans for Subban’s next contract if Phaneuf makes 7+.

  14. leafy says:

    With all the criticism Kadri has received this year, he’s on pace for 31 goals and 44 assists.

    • Gambo says:

      I like Bozie, I think he’s criticized too often and his value to the team is largely under appreciated by fans. But Kadri will provide more offense than him on the first line and with Bolland & McClement, he’s not really as needed as much.


      Could be the new top 9 if Kadri continues to work well with JVR and Kessel.

      • realistic_leafs_fan says:

        Nothing wrong with Bozak, but as I said at his signing, he was an unnecessary signing with the addition of Bolland and it was time to try Kadri as the first line centre which is the only way to know if he can handle it, plus I had confidence in Bolland.

        JVR Kadri Kessel
        Lupul Bolland Clarkson
        Raymond McClement Kulimen

        Does those lines look $4.2 million worse than the line combo’s Gambo has? I don’t feel it does. We could have used Bozak money for D help, bottom 6 help, re-sign other player money, or the cap space would have made it more possible trade wise to up grade the team as we could have taken on contract(ie, Statsny, Berglund, B. Boyle etc).
        Maybe the Bozak signing helped get Kessel signed, but it didn’t seem to help that much as Kessel got 8 years at $8mil per season…no hometown discount there.
        No offense to Bozak, but I still think it was our worst move this summer because there was not a need (I know many disagree) for Bozak. The needs were in other areas of the team or if Bozak was going to be a third line centre, then third line money(under $3mil per).
        As for Phaneuf, $7mil is high, but it’s the term that scares me more. Dion may be playing the best hockey of his career at the moment, but he will be 36 in 7 years. Does anyone honestly believe he will be as effective at 34+ as he is now? He is not a Boyle or Niedermyer where skating is effortless. He has to work hard on the ice and I see a noticeable decline in Dion’s game coming around 33-34 years old. If he wants $6mil+, it should be shorter term.

        • mojo19 says:

          I like those lines realistic.

          I mean, any combo of our 2nd-3rd line guys looks like a good mix, and we have McClement who can slide up into any spot in a pinch.

          Our forwards look great, and I think we can all agree, no more Bozak and Kessel. Enough of that already.

      • LN91 says:

        ‘Bozie’ has been terrible this season, nothing to really appreciate in 13/14.

        The team has played better the last 2 games overall. Also, the Leafs essentially paid ‘Bozie’ 4 million bucks for faceoffs…And he has dropped to 46% in that department. It’s not like the Leafs signed him for elite skill?

        • mojo19 says:

          No one hates Bozak more than I, and I was the ORIGINAL Bozak hater (along with smart guys from this site). Not like all these stats geeks who caught on later through statistical analysis because they can’t make judgements while watching a game.

          Having said that, I will say that he has provided good minutes on the PK this year. Actually, I’d like to see his face-off % while short handed, he seems to do well there, considering he’s been overall bad on face-offs.

          See I’m not a hater, I will give credit where its due. But Bozak is a plug.

  15. mapleleafsfan says:

    Getting real hard to argue we lost the Kessel trade.

  16. blaze says:

    Call me optimistic all you want I don’t see why the next 5 years of Dion’s career can’t be his best overall.

    He is clearly, in this albeit young season, thinking the game better than he ever has. It looks like a more mature less mistake prone Dion out there. I also disagree completely this has happened over night. The last 2 seasons have shown steady improvement in his game.

    He will age and may loose a bit of his wheels and/or offensive production but his decision making. He will still always have a cannon of a shot and the PP QB role will be split between Reilly and Gardiner hopefully for years to come.

    Phaneuf wants a legit shot at making Team Canada and he has been playing great. RC has him playing the perfect amount of minutes, 24 a night seems to be the magic number. Logging huge PK minutes, blocking shots, playing against the stars. An awful big role to let walk away.

    • leafmeister says:

      With his original contract demands being 7 mil per season, does it not make sense to resign him to 6.5 mil per? Stellar play this season should not earn him a raise, since this level of play is somewhat of an anomaly, but if he plays at a high level all season and leads the Leafs a round or two into the playoffs then I think 6.5 per season could work.

      With NYR struggling Toronto should target Dan Giradi at the deadline. It may cost a few assets, but he could be a huge difference maker come playoff time.

      Giradi – Phaneuf
      Gunnarsson – Franson
      Rielly – Fraser

    • mojo19 says:

      Interesting take, Blaze.

      Dion has definitely played well this year, but with his limited puck handling ability he’s never going to be great. This is as good as he could possibly play.

      I never liked McCabe when he was here, and I’m not a Dion lover either. I don’t care for dmen who can’t handle the puck. Period.

  17. doorman says:

    Like I said problem is who is he replaced with? Of the names mentioned none are true #1 dmen. Now I am NOT saying he is a 7mil per, but the other options well who knows right? I think if they can’t resign him, they should explore his value at the deadline.

    • realistic_leafs_fan says:

      That seems to be the biggest question…who do the Leafs replace him with?
      I think it’s more complicated than that. Does it not depend on what direction the Leafs go in with their D and what role they need Dion to play?
      For instance, if the Leafs decide they want to keep Rielly, Franson and Gardiner because of their offensive abilities, then Dion can play more of a steady defensive game and he will not be counted on as much for offence. In that case, he would be easier(for lack of better term) to replace if his role is more of a minute crunching, stay at home defensive D. $6+mil is too much for that role.
      On the other hand, if Leaf management decides to move a Gardiner or Franson out of the mix and Dion is relied upon to play a role that requires 40+ pts per season while playing against top opponents and being very sound defensively, then he is much harder to replace. This role would require more wear and tear on Dion’s body though and can we afford then to have him at $7+ mil for 7 years when the last 2-3 years of his contract he may not be a top pairing d-man anymore?
      I would be more comfortable with 7 years if it was around $5.5-$5.75 with the final years declining in pay so that he still may be moveable in the final 2-3 years of his contract if needed.
      If it is a $6mil + thing, then I would want 4-5 year maximum term. The higher the hit, the shorter the term to as low as 3 years if it’s $7-$7.25(I still wouldn’t like that kind of money, but may be able to live with it on a short term).
      The key to me, is still what are the Leafs doing with the other key members of the defence core.

  18. leafs_wallace93 says:

    If Kimmo Timmonen was a 6 million dollar defenseman six years ago and Mark Streit is 5.25 today then Dion should get 7 given it’s UFA money. Phaneuf’s value is like Letang’s, both have holes in their game and both bring solid production.

    The only question is can the Leafs afford him given their other pending UFAs and RFAs. Give up the ‘he’s should be 5.5-6’ it’s irrelevant to the reality of the situation.

    • realistic_leafs_fan says:

      I see what you’re saying Wallace, but Streit, Timmonen and Letang are different style defenceman than Phaneuf. Phaneuf is closer to the style of a Kromwall, Beauchimen type of d-man. None of those style guys make over $6mil. Bouwmeester as another comparison will be under $6mil with his re-sign. The $6mil+ club is the smooth skating offensive minded d-men unless they are the complete package like Chara, Suter and Weber.
      Campbell, Boyle, Karlsson, Green, Timmonen, Letang all excellent skaters and puck movers. Dion is not at there level for skating and puck moving. Like it or not, and it may not be right, but teams pay the offensive defenceman the big money even if they have flaws in their game and guys like Dion, make less.
      Comparing what he “should be” because of Phaneuf’s age, term he wants and skill set is relevant. Plus, it’s not UFA money if he re-signs. If he hits the open market, then it’s UFA money and he didn’t want to stay here that bad anyway. If he chooses to try the open market, then it would be all about money, and is that what we want in our captain?
      For the Leafs, Phaneuf should be paid (term and money) according to the role and assets he brings to this team, not what another team will pay him if he was on the open market and for what they hope he brings to their team.

      • mojo19 says:

        Timonen signed a 1 year $6 million contact last year and he’s way better than Phaneuf. Age factors though…

        Anyway’s I would rather let him walk or deal his rights than give him $7 million. That’s absurd.

      • leafs_wallace93 says:

        I really didn’t think I’d have to qualify that comment but it’s about value, not ‘their style of game’. Dion is getting 7+, period, more than one team will be willing to pay him that. It’s a discussion of the market, it’s not like an agent will say ‘oh he’s not a pure puck mover so we’ll take a pay cut’?

        Phaneuf should be paid what he’s worth and that is 7 million. Fans may not like it, Nonis may not be able fit it into the budget however the discussion should acknowledge the facts rather than argue semantics, i.e. ‘it’s not UFA money’ noooo, but the pressure of his pending UFA status dictates what he can demand, it’s not like Nonis can sit on it like he did Kadri and Franson.

        I’m not saying resign Phaneuf, let him audition, consider other players to resign and forget being neurotic about Suter, Campbell ect…

        • mojo19 says:

          Hey I don’t disagree, He could definitely get $7 million if he wants to wait it out until July 1st. My stance, if I were Nonis would be – good luck to you, Dion! And I’d keep the cap space.

          I would make a pitch to him that we’re building something special here, and if he wants to be a part of it he can sign for $30 million over 5 years (6 hit). That would be my final offer, if he wants to simply make as much money as possible, see ya later Dion.

          We won’t be that much worse off without him. Gardiner, Rielly, both young and very promising, Gunner and Franson both relatively young and overall solid and effective. It’s not a bad core. Dion not worth that money to me.

          Didn’t say he couldn’t get it. Just said I wouldn’t give it to him. Let someone else be the sucker for once.

          • leafs_wallace93 says:

            I’m actually complete indifferent on Dion resigning. If he walks it’s solves our cap crunch, if he stays it’ll force a trade or two that should bring back some good prospects. Ideally Dion has a great audition season and creates trade value. A lot of teams could use a top pairing blueliner.

            Top priority IMO should be extending Bolland.

            • mojo19 says:

              Ya Bolland is going to be key. Wish we weren’t paying Bozie $4.2 million, Bolland will warrant $5 million.

              • realistic_leafs_fan says:

                Well the Bozak signing may cost us the re-sign of one or two of Bolland, Kulimen, Franson or Raymond. Really hate that Bozak

                • mojo19 says:

                  Most like to let Raymond go of that group. But prefer to keep all of them. McClement is getting a raise from the $1.5 he’s earning too.

                  Thankfully Jay McC is not putting up much offence this year, so his agent won’t have as much leverage, but we need what he brings to our bottom six and PK, like the Redi Wings needed Kris Draper for their championship teams.

        • realistic_leafs_fan says:

          Were not really saying that much different Wallace. I’m sure you would agree that UFA status in October is not the same as July the following year though. I agreed he may get $7mil from someone else, but with what the Leafs have already on the team, he won’t get it here…and shouldn’t. Rumour is Kessel was asking $9mil+ per and they settled at $8mil and Kessel is 3 years younger than Dion which will affect term and money. Point is, if Dion really wants to be a Leaf, it won’t be for $7mil per even if he can get it somewhere else.
          Let’s give up the “what Dion is worth on the open market” and concentrate on what he is worth to Toronto;)

          • doorman says:

            RFL, unfortunately one does affect the other period. The amount of money directly reflects what the leafs will have to give him period. Now, again I am not saying that I think he is a $7mil dman or should be paid like one, however market value affects this situation.

            • realistic_leafs_fan says:

              Don’t disagree, but it’s what his value to Toronto is and what Toronto’s value to Dion is that matters the most in this situation. Widely reported that Bozak and Clarkson were offered more to play somewhere else. Nonis paid “leaf value” not market value, which is the way it should be.
              To another team, Bozak may have been worth Filpulla money and played a role which required that pay…but not in Toronto.
              Clarkson may have got Lucic money from another team and needed to play a more prominent role…but not in Toronto.
              Same as Phaneuf. With another team he may be worth the $7mil and be like Campbell is in Florida. Play 27 mins a night and be everything because there is no choice due to lack of backend talent…not in Toronto though.
              Plus, it seems to be forgotten that none of the top salary with long term players other than Chara and Boyle signed these deals at age 29 or older. Age and term also play a huge factor. Phaneufs age and term he wants does not make him a $7 mil per defenceman.

              • doorman says:

                So man, where do you stand on the appropriate dollar figure for him, and what is it? I guess really there are too many variables eh? Like who do we trade who don’t we? McClement is a major must, same with Bolland. Other roles can be filled from with in the organization, especially if Ashton can learn to walk that line instead of trying too hard. Plain and simple we are going to lose players and some fans will be pissed.

                • realistic_leafs_fan says:

                  Term is going to be the major factor due to Dion’s age and style of play.IMO
                  3 year term, maybe you can push the $6-$6.5 per. 5-7 year term I think he needs to be in the $5.5 per range.
                  This is why I hated the Bozak signing so much. It’s not that he is a bad player, but I would rather lose him over Dion, Franson, Bolland, McClement, Kulimen for example. At this point, I think Kulimen if wanting more than $3mil…gone. Raymond more than $2mil…gone. Franson, Bolland and McClement…especially Franson, will get raises.
                  McClement $2.5
                  Bolland $4-$4.25
                  Franson $4-$4.5
                  are my guesses at this point.
                  Most likely traded…Kulimen. Good player who can return value and with the fact that Raymond can play up and down the line-up for cheaper…Kulimen makes the logical choice.IMO

                  • mapleleafsfan says:

                    If Franson can’t get it together defensively, I’d be fine moving him for the right price. Wouldn’t pay him 4.5 with his play lately.

                    • mojo19 says:

                      ya Franson has been hot and cold all year.

                      I like the fact that Franson was a die hard Leaf fan growing up. Along with Bolland, Clarkson, and other guys on the team who were Leafs fans growing up, its kind of like the days of Tucker, Corson, Domi, Sundin (idolized Salming), all these guys were Leaf fans playing for the Leafs. I like that kind of thing.

                      I wonder if Gunner was a Leafs fan on account of Sundin/Swedish connection?

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