For any organization that is dealing with goaltending issues, it's never, ever a pretty sight. Even more so when that organization has to dip into their talent pool to attempt to save themselves from a disaster in the standings...assuming that that prospect actually does well under the spotlight of the NHL. Fortunately for the Toronto Maple Leafs, that risk in giving the goaltending reins to a rookie has worked wonders for not only the stability of the net but also their playoff hopes as they are now 4 points away from the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. This article focuses on that goaltender that all Leafs fans are riding their hope on: James Reimer.
First, let's look at how Reimer has done in the minors that warrants the Leafs to rely on him so much. He was drafted by Toronto in the 4th round of the 2006 draft and has spent most of his playing time in the minors. Once drafted, he played for the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL and posted solid numbers from 2006-2008. His notable year was in 2006-2007 where he was handed the starting job and played 60 games throughout the season. He earned a respectable 24-23-7 record with a solid 2.66 GAA, .912 Save Percentage and 3 Shutouts. He then moved up in the ranks by splitting time between the Toronto Marlies in the AHL and the Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL during the 2008-2009 season. In the 2009-2010 season, he stuck with the Toronto Marlies and played 26 games, had a 14-8-2 record with a great 2.25 GAA and .925 Save Percentage. It seems it took a little work for him to develop but he's clearly adjusted when given the chance at each level.
Now what is making him such a good goalie? He's been profiled to using his big 6'3", 200 lbs. frame to fill the net quite well. He seems to use his size to his advantage and give shooters not many options to work with when trying to score. That means he's not an athletic or reflexive goaltending but rather a "brick wall" type that simply tries to read the plays and blocks the net to make saves. This seems to somewhat work well for the defensively inept Leafs as they are letting him get pelted with almost 30 shots per game. Unfortunately, that likely means teams will take advantage of his youth and inexperience to wear him out and score goals against him.
What does this mean for you? He's going to be a solid goaltender for the rest of the year. A look at his performance in the past seems to suggest that he's going to be a good, not great, goaltender for the NHL but clearly has to get some experience to get to that level of talent since he is only 22 years old. That means he's definitely going to have his up and down games and seemingly more down games than up since they defense won't help him too much in blocking shots for him. His save percentage should be good but his GAA will be a bit high and the Wins will come for him since the Toronto offense has started to do it's thing lately. Give him a shot as a #3 goalie on your team and ride him along with the hopes of helping your team in the standings, just like the what the Maple Leafs are doing right now.