Just in time for your fantasy draft, The Leafs Nation will again attempt to give you sage fantasy advice. Nay, we’ll deliver you sage fantasy advice. In fact, we guarantee it. If you lose your fantasy hockey pool after taking our amazing fantasy advice, Jeffler will take you out for a fancy steak dinner. Vegetarian? Too bad! You’re getting a fancy steak dinner, courtesy of Jeffler! That’s a promise!*
*No it’s not.
Should I draft Jonathan Bernier or James Reimer?
Oh dear God, don’t draft either if you can avoid it.
It’s an ugly fantasy situation in Toronto’s crease this season. That’s not to say Bernier and Reimer will have bad season – I actually believe they’ll both have strong statistical years. The issue is that neither will get enough starts to be a viable fantasy option, especially as a number one goalie.
It’s probable that Bernier is Toronto’s quote-on-quote starter, and it’s probable he will have a longer leash to make mistakes. Leafs management desperately wants Bernier to be their number one, and will likely give him every opportunity to win that role from the incumbent.
That being said, I can’t see Reimer riding the pine for 60+ games this season. It’s more likely that Bernier gets a solid 45-50 starts, while Reimer plays the remainder.
Beyond the lack of starts, it’s hard to trust any of the Leafs’ goalers to put up strong fantasy points when they’re playing behind the Leafs’ defensive corps. Phaneuf is good and Gunnarsson is good and Gardiner is good, sure, but Ranger is maybe good and Liles is ok-at-best and Fraser is a guy who plays ice hockey.
You simply cannot trust Toronto’s group of defenders to provide the support Bernier or Reimer need to be steady fantasy contributors, especially after a season in which the Leafs gave up the 4th most shots against (though, that might be ok if your league hands out points for saves).
All of that being said, there are a select few situations in which drafting one of the Leafs’ netminders isn’t such a bad idea… and only if they’re your backup.
If you have already drafted a stud goaltender like Tuukka Rask, Henrik Lundqvist, or Jonathan Quick, picking up Jonathan Bernier as your primary backup might not be the worst idea in the world. Each of those guys will play upwards of 65 or 70 games, so having a spot-starter like Bernier on your bench isn’t terrible.
Secondly, if Bernier or Reimer are kicking around your free agency pool, and one of them goes down with a significant injury, snatch up the other. It’s not like any of Toronto’s AHL goaltenders will be able to steal significant time away from a starter-by-default.
Lastly, if your league rewards PIMs, Bernier becomes more valuable. That dude will throw down. He ain’t scared. He’ll roll up your entire crew.