Jonathan Bernier: What’s The Asking Price?
When news hit the airwaves yesterday that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke had made an offer to the Los Angeles Kings for 23-year old goaltender Jonathan Bernier there was no indication of which player/s or draft pick/s Burke had offered in return.
Today sources say that Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has identified a specific roster player and a draft pick that he would be willing to accept in return for Bernier.
As it stands right now, the Kings have a total of 24 players under contract for the upcoming 2012-13 season at a cap hit of $62,320,227. If we assume a salary cap of $70,200,000 that leaves the Kings with just under $8 million with which to make improvements to their roster.
That said, with the Kings’ willing and able to ice the majority of the roster that won the Stanley Cup this spring, there is no reason for Lombardi to spend to the cap limit. In fact, Lombardi would be smart to keep the $8 million in cap space in order to facilitate a deal or two at next seasons trade deadline.
With all that in mind, what player is Lombardi looking at from the Maple Leafs roster?
Veteran forward Clarke MacArthur has just one-year left on his contract at a cap hit of $3.5 million. Through 73 games with the Maple Leafs last season MacArthur tallied 20 goals and 23 assists for a total of 43 points. In 2010-11 MacArthur hit a career high in goals and assists with 21 and 41 for a total of 62 points, respectively.
Faceoff wizard David Steckel could also be of interest to Lombardi. Steckel, who had one of the best faceoff percentages in the NHL last season, has one-year left on his contract at a cap hit of $1.1 million. While not as skilled as MacArthur, Steckel is a valuable depth forward who doesn’t hurt you defensively.
Another option for Lombardi would be to take a flyer on restricted free agent Nikolai Kulemin. Kulemin is coming off a career-worst seven goals and 28 points. Burke is said to be playing hard ball with Kulemin, which may cause him to move the 26-year old forward rather than fight it out on a new contract.
On the defensive side, Carl Gunnarsson would surely be of interest to Lombardi, while Cody Franson (currently a RFA) may also garner some attention as a cheap depth player.
Clearly, parting with Gunnarsson would be a hard pill for Burke to swallow, while parting with MacArthur, Steckel or Kulemin would seem more likely.
As far as draft picks go it is hard to believe Burke would part with a first round draft pick for Bernier. Burke has his top three picks in next summers NHL Entry Draft, but it gets complicated from there as the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators could potentially eat up Burke’s fourth, fifth or sixth round draft choices depending on the performances/games played by Joffrey Lupul (Ducks) and Matthew Lombardi (Preds).
The draft choice will likely depend on the quality of player Burke sends the other way. If it’s Steckel, it may take a second rounder to seal the deal. If it’s MacArthur or Gunnarsson a third or fourth rounder would seem adequate.
The good news is Burke and Lombardi are talking, which means Burke is one step closer to addressing his goaltending.
Until next time,