Leafs should avoid Bernier: 5 reasons
When Jonathan Bernier, the Los Angeles Kings‘ well-regarded backup, announced his desire to be traded, rumours swirled that Toronto would be an appropriate landing spot. Here are five reasons why a Bernier-to-Leafs deal should not be struck.
1. They already have him.
More or less: Canadian goaltender chosen in the 2006 draft; will enter the 2012-13 season at 24 years of age; never played a playoff game; save percentage just on the friendly side of .900.
Take away the Mennonite background and last season’s rash of injuries — not a small deal, we know — and James Reimer is Jonathan Bernier. Neither is quite ready to carry a team into the postseason, but both have shown hints of brilliance that, with patience, health and some strong coaching, could get them to that proverbial next level.
Thing is, on paper, the Leafs goalie looks equal to or better than Bernier, who carries with him the perception of a potential star netminder being selected 11th overall (to Reimer’s 99th) and having won gold with Canada at the 2008 World Junior Hockey Championships. (Bernier went 1-1 in the tournament, splitting post duties with Steve Mason.)
Sure, there are hockey minds out there that believe Bernier’s hybrid stand-up/butterfly style and quick reflexes make him a prime candidate to improve with experience, but who’s to say a healthy Reimer (or even the untested Ben Scrivens, for that matter) won’t appreciate at the same rate?
Reimer has played 71 games to Bernier’s 48, has actually won more games than he’s lost (34-24-9 to Bernier’s 20-17-5), and has posted comparable stats — despite playing behind an appreciably worse defence. Reimer has six shutouts, Bernier five. Bernier has a .910 save percentage, Reimer’s is .914.
2. Bernier wants to be a starter now, but might not deserve it.
Bernier told TVA that he wants to be a starter in this league, but his impatience could be his undoing. Yes, it was only one interview, but Bernier and his Stanley Cup ring could have chosen to play things cool. There are worse jobs than getting paid millions to platoon in for a quarter of a season in a gorgeous city on a young, excitable winning team, allowing your skills to improve under limited scrutiny behind the second-best defence in the entire NHL.