Jonathan Bernier Acquisition A No-Lose Situation For Maple Leafs
With trade speculation following goaltender Jonathan Bernier for over a year, it was only a matter of time until the Los Angeles Kings parted ways with the highly coveted netminder. Sunday, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis pulled the trigger on a deal for Bernier, a deal which Nonis said had been in the works for several months.
In return for Bernier, Nonis parted with forward Matt Frattin, backup goaltender Ben Scrivens, a second round draft pick and a reported $500,000 to help the kings salary cap situation. Frattin and Scrivens are talented players, but neither player has the potential of Bernier.
While Bernier may have been in play at the deadline, it would appear as if the Kings chose to hang onto the young netminder. Salary cap concerns and some concern over the health of Kings’ starting netminder Jonathan Quick meant Bernier would remain a King throughout the playoffs.
Nonis attempted to upgrade the Leafs’ goaltending at the deadline when he tried to pry goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff off of the Calgary Flames. Kiprusoff refused to waive his no-trade clause, which left Nonis employing a tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens between the pipes for the playoffs.
Reimer posted a 3-4 record in the playoffs to go along with a 2.88 goals against average and a 0.922 save percentage. While Reimer’s playoff numbers were good, his overall performance came into to question, including his struggles handling the puck, poor rebound control, weak glove hand and propensity for giving up the odd soft goal.
Originally taken 11th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Bernier, 24, was highly touted and expected to be the Kings number one goaltender for years to come. The emergence of 2012 playoff MVP Jonathan Quick propelled Bernier into a backup role with the Kings, limiting his playing time to just 14 games in 2013, where he posted a 9-3-1 record with a 1.88 goals against average and a 0.922 save percentage.
The arrival of Bernier means that Reimer will be in tough to hang onto his starting role. Reimer played well last season posting a record of 19-8-5 with four shutouts, a 2.60 goals against average and a respectable 0.921 save percentage. That said, given Reimer’s struggles, it appears as if Bernier will be given every chance to be Toronto’s number one goaltender.
Of course, Bernier will have to earn the starter’s role, even if some fans have already handed it to him.
The addition of Bernier to Toronto’s roster gives Nonis a measure of depth between the pipes and sets up a very competitive environment which should push both netminders to be their best.
At the end of the day, the acquisition of Bernier is a no-lose situation for the Leafs. Bernier is young, talented and affordable, while Reimer has proven, regardless of the holes in his game, that he is capable of leading the club to the playoffs.