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Reimer Activated Off IR, Why Was Makiniemi Sent Down?

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

James Reimer is back.

This afternoon, the San Jose Sharks activated Reimer from Injured Reserve. In a corresponding move, they sent down rookie Eetu Makiniemi.

Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen will start tomorrow night against the Arizona Coyotes at SAP Center.

Reimer hasn’t played since Nov. 25, and has been sorely missed. In his absence, Kahkonen has been inconsistent, going 1-1-1 with an .877 Save %. Veteran Aaron Dell went 0-2-0 with an .897 Save %. Makiniemi made his NHL debut and won his first NHL start, going 1-0-1 with a .906 Save %.

Reimer struggled right before going on IR, but through Nov. 15, he was 5-5-2 with a .909 Save %. Per Evolving Hockey, he had a +3.83 Goals Saved Above Expected, good for 14th in the NHL (of 69 goalies).

The San Jose Sharks are hoping that Reimer can pick up where he left off then.

As for Makiniemi, he certainly impressed in his brief stint with the Sharks.

“I learned that he doesn’t let a moment affect him,” Quinn said this afternoon, before San Jose activated Reimer. “There was a calmness to him that was good from a team standpoint, a coaching staff standpoint.”

However, the 23-year-old rookie, still waiver-exempt, will get the short-end of the stick here.

While Kahkonen has struggled this season, the San Jose Sharks don’t appear ready to press the reset button on a 26-year-old netminder who they just signed to a two-year, $5.5 million dollar contract this past summer. Keep in mind too, Kahkonen’s struggles as a Shark are confined to this season — last year, he was impressive after his acquisition at the Trade Deadline. So the non-waiver exempt Kahkonen will get some more time to work through his troubles.

Keep in mind too, Makiniemi has one good NHL start under his belt — it’s not fair to anybody, Makiniemi included, to anoint the rookie as NHL-ready off it.

The Sharks could also carry three goalies, but that’s a disservice to all of them, in terms of practice reps and playing time. So instead, Makiniemi will go back to the San Jose Barracuda, where he’s opened eyes with a 6-4-1 record and .918 Save %.

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