Wanted: Goaltending; Jonathan Bernier looking for a net to mind.

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Updated: July 16, 2012

Last week Jonathan Bernier, publically requested a trade from the Los Angeles Kings.  Its tough to blame Bernier for wanting out of LA.  The 2006, 11th overall draft pick is looking for a team where he can be a starter.  After dominating in the QMJHL, and then the AHL, he has spent the last two seasons as Jonathan Quick’s backup.  With Quick’s impressive 2011-12 season, even more impressive playoffs, Conn Smythe Trophy win, and new 10 year contract it is obvious that Bernier’s opportunities to start in Los Angeles are severely limited. He is a player with a ton of talent, and I believe he can be a starter in the NHL, he just needs an opportunity. Who is likely to give that opportunity?

Given the returns we have seen in the last two years for Semyon Varlamov and Anders Lindback in the last two years, the Kings should be asking for a pretty handsome return for the talented young goalie.  The Kings are under no obligation to grant Bernier’s request, and as such they will be looking for a good deal.  I believe that Dean Lombardi would rather have Bernier as insurance on his bench against a Quick injury, than trade him for scraps.  So knowing that the asking price may be significatnt; what teams out there are most in need of a goaltender and might be willing to trade for Bernier?

When it comes to Bernier, I think there are three main teams who could be looking at him, however this is further complicated by the fact that at least two of those teams are probably also trying to figure out what is going on with Roberto Luongo.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs:  The Leafs started last season with the inexperienced and unproven duo of James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson.  This duo would implode, and poor goaltending was a huge reason for the Leafs late season crash. With Gustavsson in Detroit, The Leafs are currently looking at a duo of Reimer, and Ben Scrivens.  I don’t think Brian Burke would be wise to put all his eggs in the basket with these two young kids again, no matter how much healthier Reimer apparently is, or how well Scrivens played for the Marlies in the AHL playoffs.  While the Leafs need a goalie I think they will look for a more experienced one than Bernier, as entering the season with Bernier and one of Reimer/Scrivens still brings the same questions about inexperience, despite the fact that Bernier probably has the best pedigree of any of the three guys.  I think the Leafs are much more likely to go for Luongo or another experienced goaltending option.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets:  Columbus traded for Sergei Bobrovsky at the draft and still have Steve Mason.   I have a feeling that the Blue Jackets believe they have their goaltending tandem and are not in the hunt for Bernier.  I think this is a huge mistake.  Neither Bobrovsky nor Mason have ever shown that they are capable of being consistent NHL starters.  I think this team has the weakest goaltending in the entire NHL and they really have to do something if they want to avoid being a lottery team yet again.  However Columbus management has never shown the ability to quickly and adequately address the team’s problems.  Maybe they will prove me wrong, but I believe the Jackets will not be serious bidders for Bernier, and when you look at their goaltending situation, they really should be.

 

Chicago Blackhawks:  Corey Crawford could not follow up on his impressive rookie season, and regressed last year.  There are major questions about whether or not he is a capable number 1 goalie in the NHL.  Backup Ray Emery still has issues with his degenerative hip condition, especially when he plays too often.  The Hawks may want the more experienced Luongo, however picking him up would also require some creativity with the Salary Cap, and we all know that Luongo has never really impressed in the United Centre.  Bernier’s age also makes him a good fit for a team whose stars are Toews, Kane, Keith and Seabrook.  Bernier is of similar age to these players, and the core can grow together.  For these reasons the Blackhawks may see Bernier as a great fit for their team, and a guy who can battle with and surpass Crawford for the number 1 job.  I think the Hawks are the most likely destination for Bernier, if he is in fact traded.  The team also has a nice stash of forward prospects that they could offer to the Kings in this deal.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Not Concerned Just Yet

    July 16, 2012 at 7:08 am

    “I asked the Kings to trade me before the trade deadline, but they refused,” Bernier said. “Now that Jonathan Quick signed a long-term deal, I expect to be traded before training camp starts.”

    It never ceases to amaze how some young, unproven athletes feel they can go public and dictate a course of action contrary to hockey nature’s normal path.

    These type of statements should raise some red flags for trade partners concerning overall character, selfishness (me before team) and impatience – not exactly traits that NHL General Managers chase after even if it is a goaltender.

    If Bernier feels he can put pressure on the reigning Stanley Cup General Manager, who has earned and won some long term ‘hockey political capital,’and ownership goodwill, this also exposes another flaw – that being judgement.

    A preferable course of action would have been a QUIET sit down with GMDL,and plot a course of action that would have been similar to Corey Schneider or Tuukka Rask – prove your worth, pay your dues, and let the cards fall where they will, and be ready for the unexpected ( see Canucks/Bruins)

    So who is Jonathan Bernier and exactly what has he proven to consider himself a true starting NHL goaltender?

    Bernier had an excellent junior career, turning pro in 2007-08. Two years later for Manchester in the AHL, he won the “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award that is presented annually to the AHL ‘s best goaltender. While considered impressive, one should not forget that in the past decade, goaltenders Yann Danis, Jason LaBarbera, and Marc Lamothe have also won this award…

    Bernier has appeared in LA Kings games during the past 4 years(4 games in 07-08 and 3 games in 08-09) During 2010-11, he appeared in 25 games and last year, only 16. He has never played an NHL playoff game.

    While Bernier has shown some brilliant ‘potential’ with some outstanding games (…and what rookie hasn’t in the short term?) his overall numbers are less than impressive.

    Two years ago his Save Percentage (SP) was .913 and last year it dipped a little to .909. While he did not play enough games to be ranked, that SP would have placed him in 32nd place out of 44 NHL goaltenders ranked last year. His .913 SP the year prior would have ranked him 27th overall.

    Now consider Schneider and Rask – 2 goaltenders being given/having earned the designated starting role. Last year, Schneider’s SP of .937 was ranked 2nd, and the .929 SP of Rask would have ranked him 5th overall.

    While the Canucks/Bruins organizations have confidence, one can believe they also have their fingers crossed concerning the new 55-65 game workload along with the pressure and everything else that goes along with the number 1 designation.

    With that in mind, and surprises do happen once a decade, it is quite clear that Bernier is far from what it takes to claim a number 1 spot at this moment. While Bernier may have his wish granted, from here there is no panic for GMDL to do anything especially with a possible season delay.

    A final note to Bernier. Calling out, or supposedly putting pressure on your General Manager and organization when you have zero leverage, can also work negatively for you. You may end up often playing the 2nd game of a tough, back to back road series in Pittsburgh, Boston, Philly Detroit…more often than not.

  2. Not Concerned Just Yet

    July 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Re Ben’s Landing Spots.

    In terms of landing spots IF a trade ever happened, I agree with Ben in that Toronto would be unlikely for the several reasons mentioned. To add to that would be the asking price.

    From here, it doesn’t appear that the Leafs have any roster player either needed or wanted by the Kings due to level of talent or bloated contracts.
    With the exception of pending RFA Dwight King, LA has the same Stanley Cup roster returning next year. Acquiring Bernier would mean Draft picks and if the market is Varlamov ( one 1st and one 2nd) or Lindback (two 2nds-one 3rd) one could imagine the howling if that were to transpire (see Kessel) There is also the question about a Quick back-up.

    For those counting, the next goalie to wear a Leafs sweater will become the 10th since the Burke regime began back in November 2008.

    As for Columbus, it appears that GMSH has made his choices for this year…and is hoping (praying) that Bobrovsky finds his rookie form and not his last year’s numbers playing behind Bryzgalov in the Philly Goalie Cemetery.
    As for Steve Mason, he had a nice Year 1….4 years ago and it has been downhill ever since. One has to wonder what happened since that 2008-09 Calder Trophy winning year and nomination for the Vezina. A bad, very bad hockey team probably didn’t help either.
    As a sidebar, it’s interesting how situations sometimes play themselves out. When Mason won Gold and was named MVP for the Canadian Junior team in 2008, his back-up was…Jonathan Bernier.

    Chicago is intriguing. You have to wonder if they are really: a) in the Luongo sweepstakes or b) confident that Crawford can rebound. In any trade, LA would probably want a goaltender back and from here it would be difficult taking Emery. Then again, maybe a Crawford + 1st round pick for Bernier could work. LA could absorb the $1.4M cap difference and they could use a 2013 1st round pick as they traded their own in the Jeff Carter deal. On the Hawks side, if they did that, it would leave them without a 1st-2nd and 3rd round pick next year that is now projected to be a strong draft.

    Potential other teams?
    At this moment, and barring major catastrophic injury, I only see one other.

    Islanders:
    Always injured Rick DiPietro is a huge question mark, and if people believe Luongo has a bad contract, look no further than here.
    Di Pietro turns 31 in September and has 9 years left on a 15 year deal with an identical salary/Cap hit of $4,5M. In his 9 NHL years to date, he has only played in 315 games and his last 4 seasons for games played shows 5-8-26-8 with brutal Save Percentages. Nabokov is a UFA next summer. He is 36 and won’t give much better than a .915 SP. The Islanders have both prospects and draft picks to trade. Then again, the Islanders just may wait with their own pair of 22 year olds in Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson…something about the Devil you know comes to mind.

    Apart from that, only a major long term injury to a starter could/would move Bernier and then the price would increase exponentially.

  3. Pingback: Instant Analysis: Jonathan Bernier Traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs | Last Word On Sports

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