With silly season entering what should be one of its busiest weeks, the focus on the Leafs’ needs in goal and, well, everywhere, will be front and center up until Friday’s draft. Of course, we’ve been discussing most of this since the regular season ended, but it’s time for that last kick at the speculation can before things start happening for real.
In the past couple days, some outlets have floated the idea of Jonathan Bernier as a target for Toronto. Luongo’s name is still out there, but the Leafs can look to add a younger, yet basically unproven option in the LA Kings’ backup.
It isn’t the first time Bernier’s name has been thrown around by Leafs supporters, but since a lot of bloggers and writers have shot down the idea of adding another question mark in goal, it’s lost traction. I mean, why not just keep Reimer and Scrivens and go with that if you’re going to roll the dice, no?
Here’s where I think the idea of nabbing Bernier can gain some speed: the Leafs apparently tried to acquire Anders Lindback, who eventually ended up in Tampa Bay last week.
Lindback is as unproven as it gets, and the Leafs were interested. This shows that, for one, they’re not hung up on Luongo, and two, they’re willing to take a chance on another questionable goaltender despite being burned in the past. Depending on how you view it, this could be a smart move.
We know that avoiding huge dollars in net is a smart move for NHL clubs a lot of the time. A big payout between the pipes will not necessarily equal playoffs, so why bother?
But can we trust Bernier?
In terms of AHL numbers, this guy is in the Scrivens territory of performance, and he’s two years younger. His seasons played out a little differently, however.
Over two full seasons with the Manchester Monarchs, Bernier posted .914 and .936 save percentages with 54 and 58 games played, respectively, in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Since then he’s played 41 games for the Kings, with 25 starts at .913 in 2010-11 and 16 starts at .908 this past year.
I have no insider information, and for all I know Bernier is as far away from the Leafs’ radar as possible. But since it’s become known that they’ve kicked tires on Lindback twice (Dreger mentioned the same at the deadline, remember), I’m obviously not convinced they’re staying away from attempting to add a younger, cheaper option than Luongo.
If it were to go down, what’s the reaction in Toronto? Dependent on trade price I’m sure. And while we’re on the subject…
Bernier is under contract at 1.25 million per season until next summer, when he will become an RFA.