Roberto Luongo and Jonathan Bernier Still Available: Why Hasn’t Burke pulled The Trigger?

July 29th, 2012 16 Comments

When the 2011-12 season opened Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke was optimistic that James Reimer and the goaltender formally known as “The Monster” Jonas Gustavsson could hold the fort between the pipes for the Blue and White.

Injuries to Reimer and inconsistent play from both netminders proved Burke wrong and now, 12 months later, Burke seems content to start the season with two relatively unproven goaltenders again.

Of course Burke is on the record as saying he would like to start the season with a more experienced puck stopper in place, but his actions (or lack thereof) continue to say quite the opposite.

For much of the summer the Toronto Maple Leafs have been the subject of many trade rumors. Included in those rumors are a deal that would send disgruntled netminder Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks to the Leafs, while another rumor suggests Burke has interest in youngster Jonathan Bernier out of Los Angeles.

It has been suggested that Canucks general manager Mike Gillis is asking too much for Luongo, or at least enough that Burke scoffed at the deal, while the Bernier rumors seem unsubstantiated at this point.

The acquisition of Luongo would also be complicated by the ten-years remaining on a 12-year deal that will see the veteran netminder pocket $5,333,333 in each of the next ten seasons and the fact that he is on the record as saying that Florida would be the destination of his choice.

With Luongo currently residing in Florida and the fact that he is familiar with the organization from his previous stay with the Panthers from 2000-01 through 2005-06 the orange juice state looks to be a viable option for Luongo. Add that to the fact that the Panthers could use a netminder of Luongo’s experience and success in order to bring their roster to the next level and it would appear as if Florida is a natural fit.

That said, there have been no reports of any offer to the Panthers for Luongo’s services and with both Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen under contract for the 2012-13 season, there appears to be no rush for Panthers general manager Dale Tallon to make the deal happen.

With last season’s lack of results still fresh in the minds of the Leafs Nation and the Maple Leafs burly general manager you would think there would be a measure of panic to get something done, and yet here we are just a few days away from August 1st and there is no deal in sight.

In the case of Bernier Burke could bring in a young goaltender who could potentially solve his goaltending issues for the next decade. Burke still believes in Reimer, but if he happens to be sidelined by injuries Burke would have to rely on Ben Scrivens to take the Maple Leafs to the playoffs which, given Scrivens’ lack of NHL experience, would be a long shot at best.

So why hasn’t Burke pulled the trigger? Your guess is as good as mine.

With the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement still unsigned and the possibility of a strike in the not so distant future becoming very real Burke may not want to add a big salary to his payroll. But in the case of Bernier that is a moot point as the former first round draft choice (11th overall) of the Los Angeles Kings at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft is set to make just $1.25 million next season.

Maybe Burke knows something we don’t? Maybe, just maybe, he really does believe in Reimer and failing that, perhaps he was impressed enough by Ben Scrivens’ play in the Calder Cup playoffs that he is confident the duo can do the job?

Lest we forget, Reimer came out of nowhere (well, he came from the Toronto Marlies) to post a very respectable 20-10-5 record with the Maple Leafs in 2010-11. Reimer posted a 9-5-0-1 record with the Marlies that season to go along with a 2.59 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Comparatively, Scrivens posted a 22-15-0-1 record with the Marlies last season, with a sparkling 2.04 goals against and an impressive .926 save percentage.

To be fair, Scrivens played on a much more talented/deeper team than Reimer did, but the numbers suggest if Reimer can be a difference maker at the NHL level, Scrivens could as well.

Looking at the Maple Leafs roster for the upcoming season there are still a few holes. The loss of defenseman Luke Schenn in the deal that brought James van Riemsdyk to Toronto has left a hole on defense while Burke still is in need of a number one centre.

Perhaps Burke would rather take his chances on Reimer and Scrivens and use his assets to bring in a player that could upgrade his team at centre or defense? Or, as has been suggested in the papers, maybe Burke just doesn’t like what the asking prices have been for Luongo and Bernier?

One thing is for sure, both of these supposed deals have been lingering for weeks now. I don’t know about you, but I would like to see Burke either piss or get off the pot.

Until next time,



  1. tommy says:

    Have some patience this is REAL not a video game it takes time and they still 2months man so leafs nation should realize that

  2. Hudson says:

    Uhm, ok Tommy. What are you here reading for then? You can just tune in in August.

    Thanks for the write up, Mark. I have a feeling Burke is not done. Things could get interesting before long! I hope it’s not Luongo…but at the same time, I find myself feeling that I would not mind. Maybe Burke is playing the waiting game to see if the prices come down. All the pressure is on the Canucks.

  3. Hoogy says:

    When Bernier is included in the goalies still available and Burke has said he would prefer to have an experienced goalie to start this season, why are we even mentioning Bernier? He does not have any more experience than Reimer and not noticeably better numbers. He is not experienced and should not be included in the conversation about experience.

  4. MarkRitter says:

    Hey Hoogy:

    I will answer your question by re-directing you to the article where I wrote: “Of course Burke is on the record as saying he would like to start the season with a more experienced puck stopper in place, but his actions (or lack thereof) continue to say quite the opposite.”

    We know what Burke has said, but his actions do not back those words up. At least not yet. Bernier has more experience at the AHL, but yeah, not really enough at the NHL level to get a good read on him. He’s talented though, and with both Reimer and Scrivens bringing their fair share of question marks to the table, why not roll the dice on Bernier- whom many scouts felt was going to be an all-star calibre NHL goalie? I say go for it, he is a lot less expensive than Luongo and has just one-year left on his contract, what does Burke have to lose?

  5. Hoogy says:

    Thanks Mark, Just to let you know that I am not in favour of Luongo either. To me he is overly sensitive and I have stated before that 2 years ago Vancouver left him out for a game in Boston just after the verbal jousting between him and Thomas. In Toronto he would have to face Boston at least 6 times, that and the length and amount of his contract tell me to steer clear of this guy. I would vote for going with the goalies we have now for this coming year. If the team shows improvement with the additions and the upgrading from within then may be the time to get better goaltending if that is indeed still an issue.

  6. peterj says:

    As Burke has said in the past, he doesn’t need a goaltender until the season starts. So whats the rush, lets not confuse Brian Burke with Mike Milbury. Evey player has a value and if a GM over pays every time he makes a trade he wont last very long.

    Vancouver has to trade Luongo before the season starts, he would be a major distraction to the team if he wasn’t traded similar to what Nash nwould have been in Columbus. Vancouver has a very small window of opportunity to win a cup, they have missed 2 chances already and at the most have maybe 2 chances left. They don’t need a distraction of any kind. If they are going to have any chance to beat out LA in the west they will need evey thing to be perfect. Advantage Burke!

  7. MarkRitter says:

    Fair enough Hoogy- and a lot of people share your opinion on Luongo. So, if I am hearing you right and you want to go with Reims and Scrivens, then I guess neither one of us believe Burke’s quote to be gospel…It would be risky to go with Reims and Scrivens, just look at what happended when Burke went with two unproven goaltenders last season. The trouble is, once we find out if they can handle FT NHL action it may be too late. As the beginning of the season most teams are feeling out their players, so it will be tough for Burke to upgrade until the trade deadline which again, in my mind, is too little too late. To your point, and it is valid, Bernier has little NHL experience as well. Something tells me he would be an upgrade to Reims, but that is just my gut talking. It will be interesting to see which way Burke goes, I just feel Bernier, as inexperienced as he may be, is worth the risk (depending on the pircetag of course).


  8. MarkRitter says:

    Hey Peterj-

    I agree, Vancouver must deal Luongo, but they still have a few options. Also, we must consider that Luongo has asked to be traded. There is no way Luongo wants to step foot back in that locker room, so he may have to be a little more flexible than just looking at Florida. If Luongo submits a list of teams the asking price might go up, but as we saw with the Nash deal, GM’s are not giving up the farm these days. I guess that is the key- what does Gillis think he can get and what will he REALLY get in return for Luoongo?


  9. Dave says:

    Quite the discussion here boys…

    I tend to err on the side of potential. I think Burkie has also shown a penchant for doing the same in many of his trades over the past three years. That leads me to believe Burkie has directly or indirectly investigated Bernier. It all biols down to the price tag here. Like Mark and many of you have so rightly pointed out, he is unproven much as Reims and Scrivens are. Therefore, much like other players around the league (pas deals include Turris, Mueller, etc.) how do you come to a price on potential? It aint easy thats for sure, but something tells me if the price is right, Burke will move quickly. Having said that, I see him staying in LA for another year to be honest – but time will tell. I guess it depends also on the player. Bernier has been on record asking for a trade but doesnt seem to be a poison/or distraction (as bad as that sounds) in the room as much as say a Luongo.

    I get the feeling mid August we’ll see things heat up around the league. Theres too many names out there for deals to not be made.

    My 2cents on starting Reims and Scrivens you might ask? I’m with Mark, its a very risky proposition but I’d do it before selling the farm. My preference would be to see Rynnas be packaged in a trade and see Owuya battle Scrivens in the AHL and watch Bernier and Reims battle it out at the ACC.


  10. Dave says:

    Oh and one more thought…

    “Piss or get off the pot”. I’m a Burke supporter but I’m with ya on that one Mark. We’ve heard too much talk about Burkes game, Randys game, etc. and the fact that Burke is going to address the player situation to play their styles. Its end of July and nothing has really changed…..


  11. MarkRitter says:

    Hey Dave-

    From reading your posts I get the sense you are a fan of Owuya. I have to admit I haven’t seen him play much, so I’ll ask, what do you see in him? Not being a goof, just interested in your opinion.

    By the way Boys, the SlapShot went over 1 million views this week!

    Thanks for the support!!!


  12. Dave says:

    Thats some wicked news dude!! A huge shout out and congrats to you and your team!

    Not sure where my confidence in Owuya lies to be honest – I havent seen a ton of him, but from what I have seen (one prospect game and a handful of AHL games, one of which I saw him play live last season) he looks to be a legit come out of nowhere type prospect.

    He’s a fairly large goalie who plays and just plain looks big in net, he plays a butterfly game but looks to be a guy whos pretty good at reading plays and taking away angles. He had some great numbers (.930) save percentage in 19 games with the Marlies and he was able to come in from the Reading Royals in the ECHL and steal the starting job with Marlies after Scrivens and then later Rynass went down with injuries.

    I’d like to see what he can do with some more time in the AHL and push the guys in front of him….


  13. MarkRitter says:

    LOL…”My team”…what team, its all me. Although I do have a guy who keeps my site ticking. I guess I should give shout out to him!

    Nice report on Owuya, hopefully he pans out!

    Cheers man!

  14. Hudson says:

    Wow, Mark. Congratulations. Big numbers!

    I personally want to build a time machine, and ship it to Burke on the condition that he stick with Rask. But then we’d have to wait forever for other things to be done or undone. Who knows how things might turn out. This first run hasn’t been successful yet…

  15. […] were plenty of rumors surrounding a possible acquisition of Vancouver Canucks veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo, nothing has materialized. The same can be said for Los Angeles Kings backup Jonathan Bernier, who […]

  16. […] pipes Burke will have to go with a duo of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens, unless he makes a trade for Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Bernier or the Vancouver Canucks Roberto Luongo.Should Burke roll the dice on Luongo he will have a […]

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