TORONTO - James Reimer, in the view of Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, will write the team’s goaltending story in 2011-12.
It’s those who provide the footnotes that remain somewhat unclear.
“We’re confident James Reimer can handle not only the physical workload,” Burke said, “but the pressure-cooker workload of being a starting goaltender in a Canadian market.”
Reimer established himself as a No. 1 goalie in the schedule’s most gruelling stretches, compiling a 20-10-5 record with a .921 save percentage and three shutouts as the Leafs came alive in the second half.
But what of his backups?
Jean-Sebastien Giguere is slated to have sports hernia surgery and will be a free agent on July 1. Jonas Gustavsson has had heart trouble.
“We are confident at this point that we want to give the Monster (Gustavsson) a chance,” Burke said. “He has not had a chance, due to physical issues, to show us what he can do. I think this guy is a legitimate NHL goaltender and he needs to be given a chance.”
Gustavsson was 6-13-2 in 23 games and will need a major confidence boost when he arrives at training camp.
The X factor is Giguere, who was 11-11-4. Burke is not ready to commit to the seasoned veteran, who will turn 34 in May. And coach Ron Wilson indicated on Monday that while he can live in a three-goalie world, it is not his preference. Two would do.
And youngsters Ben Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas could work their way into the mix.
“We will have to see what Jiggy’s status is after his surgery,” Burke said. “He may not be a factor for us. He may be. We will wait and see.”
Is signing a proven vet for insurance a priority?
“Not at this point, no,” Burke said. “We will see how training camp goes.”