SAN JOSE -- In the days and weeks leading up to Monday’s NHL trade deadline, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson was seeking depth at all three positions now that his club is a virtual lock to make the postseason.
He turned to the rebuilding Maple Leafs and counterpart Lou Lamoriello for help at all three, including on Saturday, when James Reimer was acquired as a solid, veteran backup goalie to starter Martin Jones.
Reimer, along with young forward Jeremy Morin –- likely to be ticketed for the Barracuda -– are now Sharks property, in exchange for goalie Alex Stalock, forward Ben Smith and a conditional fourth round draft pick in 2018 (it becomes a third round pick if the Sharks advance to the Stanley Cup Final).
“I’ve done deals with Lou over the years and I have tremendous respect for him and his clarity of what he wants to accomplish,” Wilson said. “I think both teams are in different places. We’re certainly trying to compete today while keeping an eye on the future; I think he’s probably got more of an eye on the future. I think we’re a natural pair to do deals.”
Upgrading the backup goalie was a necessity for Wilson, who may be feeling some pressure with a veteran roster and after missing out on the postseason last year. If anything were to happen to Jones, who has been outstanding in his first full season as an undisputed starter, the Sharks would have been filleted in the playoffs.
Reimer, 27, is about as good of an option as Wilson could have hoped for. Playing in front of another bad Toronto team, he has a more-than-respectable 2.49 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in his sixth NHL season.
“James is a guy we’re very familiar with, a veteran goaltender in this league, and certainly capable of being a number one all on his own,” Wilson said. “We’re excited about the depth and the tandem it gives us.”
Reimer, who was in Montreal preparing for Toronto’s game later Saturday night, "figured something was up" when he was just about to take a pregame nap and saw a New Jersey area code pop up on his caller ID. Lamoriello, of course, was the long time general manager with the Devils before moving on to Toronto.
The Maple Leafs selected Reimer in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. It’s the first time the six-foot-two, 217-pounder has been traded.
“It’s definitely a weird feeling to be going somewhere else, but obviously the changes that are being made in Toronto, they are being made to be successful in the future,” he said.
“Getting this opportunity to come to a team like San Jose, poised to do some damage, it’s exciting. It’s an opportunity where you try to make the most of it.”
He’ll re-join his former teammates in Toronto, Roman Polak and Nick Spaling, acquired by the Sharks on Monday for Raffi Torres and a pair of second round picks. He had already been in touch with Spaling via text message.
“Those guys are great guys,” Reimer said. “They did a lot of good things in Toronto. … I’m looking forward to being behind them and continuing to do what we can.”
Reimer is a pending unrestricted free agent, making $2.3 million. Could he stay past this season? Wilson isn’t thinking about that just yet.
“We’re focused in on right now. … We’ll deal with all those other things when they come, but this season and this upcoming playoffs is a priority,” he said.
Reimer is expected to join the Sharks next week, as the immigration issues that come with trading for a player in Canada get worked out. In the meantime, the Sharks have recalled Aaron Dell from the Barracuda for Sunday’s game in Vancouver, and possibly Monday at home against Montreal.
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Trading Stalock, in particular, wasn’t easy for Wilson, despite the 28-year-old goalie sporting just an .884 save percentage, the worst mark among NHL goalies that have appeared in at least 10 games this season. Stalock was, undeniably, a popular teammate in the Sharks dressing room, and that’s probably why he stuck around for as long as he did.
Drafted by the Sharks in 2005, Stalock worked his way back from a serious nerve injury in 2011 that could have ended his career.
“He is a special guy,” Wilson said.
“He’s down a little bit in his confidence, but he’ll bounce back. He’s a really good hockey player, but he’s a tremendous person, and what he’s done for us in the community, off the ice, going down and playing some games on the Barracuda – he epitomizes what a hockey player should be. We appreciate everything that he did in this organization, but he’s going to go on and do really well.”
It would appear that the Sharks are done making moves with Monday’s noon deadline approaching, the team essentially capped-out, and its biggest priorities now filled.
Wilson didn’t close any doors just yet, though.
“We identified a little while ago things we’d like to add coming into this deadline, and I think we’ve accomplished most of them so far,” Wilson said.
“We like where our team is at. We look forward to the stretch run, and I think the players and coaches have certainly earned with their effort and performance for us to add some of these pieces that we think make us a better team.”