With the trade of Dion Phaneuf, most fans begin to ask, “Now how about moving Lupul and Bozak.” With both players being out with injuries, it would be difficult for the Leafs to move either. Moreover, with respect to Lupul, his contract and injury woes throughout his career further complicates things. While we know that some players on the roster may be moved prior to the deadline (Parentau, Polak to name two), I think the bigger question is what do the Leafs do with James Reimer and Nazem Kadri.
I’m beginning to think that management is beginning to have some questions about whether or not Jonathan Bernier can be their goaltender for the next several years. It’s the only thing that makes sense as to why Reimer is getting most starts unless the Leafs are marketing him for a possible trade. The problem with that scenario is that Reimer is a UFA at the end of the season so why trade him if you can get him without giving up anything.
I have always liked Reimer. He’s a gamer and has always been a good teammate, even when Randy Carlyle regularly dissed him. I don’t remember ever hearing that Reimer was a problem in the dressing room. The concerns I have with Reimer is that he seems to be injury prone and in the past has had a problem with high glove side shots. It seems that some of his techniques have improved this year and that is even the case with his performance in shootouts. But, once again this year he has been out of the lineup due to injury.
With respect to Bernier, I have wanted to believe that he was the answer in goal. But, this year has been awful and I wonder if he can truly be a number one goalie. All this being said, unless the Leafs believe that Sparks or Bibeau can jump to the NHL next season or if they have their collective eye on another goalie somewhere else, it might be in their best interest to sign Reimer to a reasonable 2 year deal. Whether he would accept that is another story. The other option would be to move Bernier, sign Reimer to a 3 year deal and cultivate a young goalie who will be ready 2 years down the road when the Team will be ready to contend for a playoff spot.
Nazem Kadri’s situation is another tough one. There is no question that his overall play this year under Mike Babcock has improved. However, I really have to question whether he is a number 2 or number 3 center. In my opinion, he is not a game breaker. He can be a solid center man but I don’t see him warranting a contract more than Tyler Bozak’s. Kadri may think otherwise but I don’t see it.
Another option could be exploring interest for Kadri before the Feb 29th trade deadline. If the Leafs could get a 2nd round pick & a prospect in a trade for Kadri it might be worth something to consider. The problem is going to be what Kadri’s expectation is for a contract The kid is very self-confident which could mean that he has a higher value of himself than what the market will bear. In my mind, a contract that may be slightly higher than Bozak’s would seem to be in order. One other thing to consider, what if the Leafs have the ability to draft Auston Matthews. You could conceivably have Matthews and William Nylander as your number one and number 2 centers. It then comes down to Bozak or Kadri as your number 3.
The Kadri situation is a difficult one and I’m glad Shanahan & Company are the ones who have to make the decision. But considering what they have done up to this point, I feel confident that they will make the right one.
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