Jonathan Bernier Asks For Trade. Is Brian Burke Interested?
There has been plenty of speculation surrounding the future of Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo who has asked to be traded out of Vancouver. Now, it appears as if Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier has asked for a trade, as per NHL writer Andy Strickland of True Hockey.
Strickland made the announcement via his Twitter account stating: “Next move the #LAKINGS will be to trade Jonathan Bernier who has asked to be moved. #devils #Leafs #blackhawks all possibilties”
The Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks have long been rumored to be interested in Louongo, so it is not a big stretch to imagine these teams making an effort to trade for Bernier.
In Louongo, teams are getting a proven veteran who, while historically shaky in the playoffs, is a legitimate all-star goaltender during the regular season. He has ten years remaining on his 12-year, $64 million contract, which carries a cap hit of $5,333,333 for the length of the contract.
Louongo, 32, finished the 2011-12 season with a 31-14-8 record to go along with a 2.41 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. His GAA and save percentage were close to his career average, which stand at .919 and 2.52, respectively.
Through 727 career games, Louongo has a 339-283-83 record with 60 shutouts. His career playoff numbers are 31-29 with five shutouts to go along with a respectable 2.53 goals against average and a .916 save percentage.
Drafted in the first round (11th overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in 2006, Bernier is just 23-years old. He has plenty of upside, but has just 48 games of NHL experience behind him, where he has posted a 20-17-5 record to go along with a 2.50 goals against average and a .910 save percentage with five shutouts.
Bernier, who has one-year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $1.25 million before he becomes a restricted free agent in 2013-14, posted a career best 11-8-3 record in 2010-11, while posting a 5-6-2 record in 2011-12.
With Los Angeles recently signing goaltender Jonathan Quick to a 10-year, $58 million deal there is little hope of Bernier becoming a starter in Los Angeles, which likely has a lot to do with Bernier’s trade request.
Los Angeles has plenty of young talent between the pipes with Bernier, Christopher Gibson and Martin Jones currently in the system. That said, neither Gibson or Jones looks to be ready to assume a role with the big club just yet. Clearly, if Los Angeles decides to move Bernier (and there is no guarantee that they will move him) they will likely have to acquire another netminder either though trade or, more likely, via free agency.
Bernier is highly regarded by many NHL organizations, therefore there should be plenty of interest in Bernier around the NHL.
Will Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke be interested in Bernier?
Burke already has a number of young goaltenders in his stable, including James Reimer, who is just one season removed from a very respectable 20-10-5 record to go along with a 2.60 goals against average and a tidy .921 save percentage. Due to what was originally thought to be an early season concussion, later found to be a neck/nerve injury and the curse of the sophomore goaltenders, Reimer’s game fell off last season where he posted a 14-14-4 record to go along with a bloated 3.10 goals against average and a paltry .900 save percentage.
While many believe Reimer (who is said to be symptom free this summer) will bounce back this season, Burke has eluded to bringing in a goaltender with experience to start the season. Bernier doesn’t really fit the “experienced” bill, but he would certainly push Reimer for playing time and could evolve into an excellent starter if given the chance.
Burke also has Ben Scrivens (25) in the fold. Scrivens was one of the American Hockey Leagues best goaltenders this past season, posting a 22-15-1 record, followed by an impressive run in the playoffs which saw Scrivens lead the Marlies to the Calder Cup Finals, finishing with a 11-6 record to go along with a miniscule 1.92 goals against average and a healthy .935 save percentage and three shutouts.
Would bringing Bernier into the fold only cloud an already fuzzy goaltending picture? Perhaps, but there is probably more risk in going with Reimer and Scrivens to start the season.
Bernier is seen by many as a future star and as good as Reimer and Scriven’s have been, neither goaltender looks to have the upside that Bernier has. With all that in mind, Bernier looks to be a good addition for the Maple Leafs.
Will Burke go after Bernier?
It says here if Burke takes a pass on Bernier he’d be foolish. At 23-years old Bernier is a goaltender who could grow with this young Maple Leafs team and, should he develop into the goaltender everyone seems to think he will, Burke will have addressed his goaltending for the next decade.
At this point, with Reimer (24) a huge question mark and Scrivens still unproven at the NHL level Bernier is a very legitimate option for the Toronto Maple Leafs and should make him a very attractive player on the trade market.
What will Burke have to give up to land Bernier?
There is no question Bernier will command a good return. With several NHL teams believed to be interested in Bernier there will likely be a bidding war for the youngster, which may include a roster player and/or draft choices or prospects.
Looking at Toronto’s current roster there are few players that Kings’ general manager Dean Lombardi would be interested in. Sure, Jake Gardiner would garner plenty of interest, but he isn’t going anywhere! That said, Burke has a number of mid-high level prospects that should interest Lombardi, including defensemen Stuart Percy and Jesse Blacker or perhaps forward prospect Nazem Kadri, who always seems to be in any Maple Leaf trade rumor.
A deal which included Kadri, Blacker or Percy along with a third round draft pick might be enough to get the deal done. Los Angeles is deep on defense, but with Lombardi shipping young defenseman Erik Johnson to the Colorado Avalanche last season there is a need to replenish at that position. That said, until we hear more about the Kings’ asking price and/or what other teams are offering spending a lot of time on potential deals is kinda moot.
What say you? What will Los Angeles be looking for in return for Bernier and which players will Burke be willing to part with to make it happen?
Until next time,