Report: Leafs make pitch for Jonathan Bernier

Via CBC’s Andi Petrillo.

It isn’t much to go on, but it appears as if Brian Burke thinks the price may be right for the Leafs to acquire Los Angeles Kings’ backup and former first-round draft pick Jonathan Bernier.

Bernier, of course, has played just 48 NHL games in his career, posting a save percentage of .910 and an even strength save percentage of .913. The NHL average over that span is .921.

This probably isn’t a very safe bet, but Bernier is young, talented enough, and cheap. He just hasn’t seen his NHL numbers catch up to its potential, but that’s almost to be expected with young goaltenders.

Back in May, Jonathan Willis wrote about whether the Leafs ought to trade a lottery pick for Bernier, as suggested by David Shoalts. Here was his conclusion:

That sudden, unexpected leap in Quick’s performance relegated Bernier to the backup position. He’s been pretty good there. Over a 47-game NHL career, the 23-year old has a 0.911 SV%. He’ll probably develop into a starter, but he’s still something of a question mark. As James Reimer could attest, having been a 23-year old goalie with great minor-league numbers and a 0.921 career save percentage in 37 NHL games just last year, those things don’t guarantee a smooth and bump-free ride into a starting job.

Could Bernier be a great pickup for the Leafs? Certainly. Could he be the answer between the pipes? That’s entirely possible. It just doesn’t make any sense to trade away a lottery pick for a guy who, draft pedigree aside, doesn’t look worlds better than James Reimer did one year earlier.

Nothing ought to have changed since then. James Reimer is still a safe enough option going forward. I understand the feeling that Leafs fans get when they want to pick up another piece in net, but Bernier is by no means a sure bet.

He is under contract for one more season at $1.25M, though his actual salary is $1.525M, which is slightly cheaper than Reimer’s $1.8M price tag. That’s not really a worry at this point with such a high salary cap (for now).

If the Kings aren’t asking much for the goaltender who has asked for a trade, then, why not, and stack the roulette table with as many chips. Just don’t expect that Bernier will come in and run show if acquired. He’s still a project, but worth a shot if all he’ll cost is a couple of magic beans.

  • RexLibris

    I made the case over at FN that trading a 1st round pick for Bernier might not be the worst thing for them as it would provide a clear plan of succession for Kiprusoff.

    The Leafs don’t have that luxury should they acquire Bernier and I suspect that he would enter the goaltending discussion as a 1 and 1A with Reimer. That much pressure doesn’t always bode well for young netminders, and less so ones that are coming from hockey anonymity in L.A.

    On paper, acquiring Bernier, assuming a relatively decent price tag from a Kings’ perspective, would look good. But once acquired, Burke would have to make certain that this young man was further supported and developed to ensure that the investment nets a proper return, no pun intended.

  • This confirms just how incompetent Burke is around goaltending. Notwithstanding he didn’t solve goaltending in Vancouver and waived Bryz in Anaheim, he didn’t to pursue Theodore last year and he didn’t make a push for Vokoun this year. I can name other capable goalie he was never in on the trade for. Burke is a good GM but he doesn’t understand goaltending.