Report: Maple Leafs ‘Appear to be Listening to Offers’ for Jonathan Bernier

Could Toronto’s scorched earth approach to the upcoming NHL trade deadline include a Jonathan Bernier trade?

On Saturday night Sportsnet’s Damien Cox suggested as much on the always-interesting Hockey Night in Canada Saturday Headlines segment:

“There’s lots and lots to talk about with the Toronto Maple Leafs. As we expected, they could be the most active team in the National Hockey League. What’s interesting is now they appear to be listening to offers for goaltender Jonathan Bernier… Now they’re listening, so what that means we’ll wait and see, but there are teams out there in the National Hockey league who might be interested in upgrading their goaltender. The San Jose Sharks have been talked about all season long. Dallas Stars, maybe, although they already went out and got Jhonas Enroth.”

That’s as interesting as it is perplexing. It also isn’t the first time Cox has mentioned the possibility of Bernier being on the move, so this isn’t necessarily coming out of left field.

Bernier, 26, makes $2.9M this year and becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season. He will surely command a raise, though how much of one I can’t say. It could be upwards of $4.5M-$5M per season, and would almost certainly be a multi-year deal, as it’ll be his final contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. 

Do the Leafs really want to commit to Bernier for that long, and for that much money, especially when James Reimer is still under contract for $2.3M next year? That’s a tough call. 

I like Bernier a lot. I think he’s a better goaltender than Reimer. But if you’re planning on rebuilding and don’t necessarily want to help yourself become a better team, why bother?

The Sharks?

Cox’s desk buddy tonight, Elliotte Friedman, was actually on Edmonton’s 630 CHED yesterday speaking about the Sharks looking for a goaltender in their mid-twenties that could backstop them for the foreseeable future.

Bernier certainly fits that description. What the Leafs could get back for him though is a little more difficult to identify.

The goaltending market has been pretty muddy this season, with Devan Dubnyk being the only remotely comparable ‘tender to be dealt. For Dubnyk’s services, the Arizona Coyotes got a 2015 third round pick out of the Minnesota Wild.

Bernier is worth more than that. A second round pick doesn’t seem like enough, but a first round pick might be too much (San Jose owns both of their first round and second round selections, for the record). A package of picks might be the most desirable assets the Sharks have to offer, as their prospect pool is thin, to say the least.

The Stars?

Seems a lot less likely, considering they already have the aforementioned Enroth and Kari Lehtonen (with his $5.9M cap hit for three more years after this one). I suppose it’s possible that the Leafs take Lehtonen’s contract off the Stars’ hands, but the sweetener in the deal better be enormously valuable. 

Dallas owns their first and third round picks this season, but have already moved their second rounder in the Jason Spezza deal. They do have a number of decent prospects in their system, including goaltenders Jack Campbell, Philippe Desrosiers and Brent Moran if the Leafs want to keep their goaltending pipeline stocked.

  • TGT23

    Good article Justin as Bernier’s value has really slipped especially in the new year where he has only one stand on your head game while his opponent tonight has a couple of those every week.

    With the leafs starting their umpteenth rebuild since 1967 one would logically think the leaf management would similar to Reilly and young Nylander want to develope a young goal tender. This latest rebuild is a 4 to 5 year plan so obviously this should be the route that management should take. But then again this is the leaf management where anything can and usually does happen. Just look at the David Clarkson soap opera for two years as an example.