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Unexpected trade to the Sharks has energized James Reimer

James Reimer didn't expected to be dealt as the trade deadline approached, but he likes the situation he's in in San Jose. Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images

For a guy who had never been traded before in his NHL career, James Reimer's adjustment to a new team has been as smooth as silk.

The 28-year-old netminder lost his first start after coming over to the San Jose Sharks just before the trade deadline, but has since ripped off three straight wins, including two shutouts.

"It feels pretty seamless. The guys here are a bunch of real good guys," Reimer said this week from San Jose. "It's been a lot of fun to just jump in with the group and just start playing. I think it helps that our schedule is so busy and we're playing so many games. At the same time, you don't get to see too much of the area because you're playing every other day. It's been a really good adjustment, though."

It's because of that March schedule -- 16 games in 31 days -- that Sharks general manager Doug Wilson came to the conclusion he needed an upgrade over former backup Alex Stalock. The GM wanted to get someone who could more confidently spell starter Martin Jones, so as not to overplay the youngster and burn him out in his first year as an NHL starter.

It was delicate, because Stalock was so beloved as a teammate, but it should prove to be a wise move. And not just for the month of March, but also as valuable insurance for Jones entering the playoffs.

"Stalock is a great guy, they loved him in the room, but he never found that consistency this season," said former NHL forward Jamie Baker, now a Sharks television analyst. "They were looking for a backup to help out with all the games this month. Reimer has good structure to his game, that's what has impressed me. He doesn't chase the game.

"I also think it pushes Jones a bit. Jones is certainly the No. 1 guy, but you bring in somebody like Reimer, it keeps him on his toes. It's a good competitive situation. You go back to Chicago last year. If Scott Darling doesn't play like he did against Nashville in the first round when Corey Crawford struggled, who knows if the Blackhawks win the Cup or not."

It's the kind of 1-2 punch in goal that has the playoff-bound Sharks feeling better about themselves.

"This team is as confident as I've seen them in a while, and you're not confident unless you have goaltending," Baker said.

There was a time earlier this season when Reimer figured his future might be with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was having a pretty good season on a rebuilding, last-place team. His agent had contract talks with Leafs management. Then came a trade two days before the deadline.

"I don't think I want to get into all the details, but I had the feeling I would stick around in Toronto," said Reimer, a pending unrestricted free agent. "I didn't get the feeling at all that I'd be going somewhere. So I was a little surprised when it happened. But at the same time, I wasn't shocked. You know the situation Toronto is in. I guess they felt they were building for the future and get some pieces."

The contrast between a young, rebuilding team looking to the future and joining a veteran, win-now club in San Jose is certainly night and day for Reimer.

"It's a lot different, obviously," the Manitoba native said. "You have to take into perspective the two organizations are in two totally different places. With Toronto, I felt that from past years to this year, the Leafs took a lot of good steps in how they played this year. They played the right way, so things are definitely looking up there.

"But it's a different situation here right now -- just a really good, really solid, talented and experienced team. You just go down the list of all-stars on this team. They've won a lot of games here in the past and had a lot of success. Just the leadership and confidence here in terms of heading into any game and knowing there's a good chance to win. It's a different mindset for sure."

In San Jose, Reimer rejoined former Leafs teammates Roman Polak and Nick Spaling, who were both traded to San Jose five days before him in a separate deal.

"It was kind of funny. I'm thinking I may never see them again, who knows. All of sudden, a couple of days later, here we are," Reimer said, laughing. Sharks assistant coach Steve Spott was also a welcome sight, having coached Reimer last season in Toronto.

"I have a lot of respect for him and got along with him really well last year," Reimer said. "I think he's a really good coach. To have him here and know how he works, that's made it easier."

It could be a short visit in San Jose, with free agency lurking on July 1, but Reimer is only focused on the here and now. He has a chance to be part of something special, and he's dialed in for it.