Bernier the Boats

Bernier the Boats

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The Jonathan Bernier to Toronto speculation was ongoing all week, so it wasn’t a complete surprise when the Leafs acquired him yesterday. What was surprising, considering teams that are in much worse shape in net like the Flyers and Islanders were in on the bidding, is that one of those teams didn’t offer big value for a goalie so many are apparently high on.

Ultimately, it seems the Leafs were able to offer a package that matched up well with the Kings’ needs. The Leafs gave Los Angeles a good backup goalie and top nine forward who combine to cost them a million bucks (since the Leafs are retaining salary), along with a second round pick. That’s solid value for a guy who requested a trade on a team that’s tight against the cap.

Conversely, the Leafs assumed more risk in this deal but are receiving more potential in return. Dave Nonis basically admitted as much in his press conference, saying “we felt the gamble was worth taking with the upside that we think that Jonathan has.”

From Toronto’s point of view, they are getting an asset they think has legitimate franchise goalie upside for below market value considering LA’s circumstances and Bernier’s trade request. Even though the Leafs already have a goalie that was lights out last season and basically carried them to the playoffs, Nonis still pulled the trigger on this deal. I wrote last week that I’m betting the Leafs are more concerned about Reimer’s ability to stay healthy than his actual talents, but what they traded away isn’t a package you put together to merely bring in a backup goalie.

For comparisons sake, here is what other teams paid to acquire a young goalie in the past few years:

  • Tampa acquired 24-year-old Anders Lindback, Kyle Wilson and a 7th for Sebastien Garon, two second round picks and a third. They also traded Cory Conacher for Ben Bishop afterward.
  • Colorado acquired 23-year-old Semyon Varlamov for the 11th overall pick and a conditional second round pick.
  • St. Louis acquired 25-year-old Jaroslav Halak for first round prospect Lars Eller and third round prospect Ian Schultz.

None of those goalies have panned out spectacularly for their teams, but like the Leafs, none of them really gave up anything substantial, either.

If Bernier does pan out, you have to wonder what this means for Reimer.

When Randy Carlyle was head coach of the Ducks, the most starts a goalie ever received under him was Jonas Hiller’s 58 starts in 2009-10. The season before that, Giguere started 44 games and Hiller started 38, so he’s no stranger to platooning his goalies and balancing out starts.

Reimer admitted to the Sun that “Overall, I felt I played well this past season. I feel like I’ve established myself as a No. 1 goalie in this league.” And that after seeing the trade it made him, “feel a bit doubted as a goalie.”

Barring the Leafs signing Bernier –who is an RFA—to an unexpected long-term extension, we have to assume that Bernier and Reimer are in an open competition for the net, but when a GM brings in “his guys” history tells us that his guy usually wins when push comes to shove.

The bottom line is that the Leafs already had a guy who looked well on his way to being a legitimate number one goalie in the NHL in James Reimer, and for whatever reason, they still question him.  Now, they’ve brought in competition and doubled their odds that one of Bernier or Reimer will emerge into the role of a true franchise goalie.

Reimer does have more experience having played over 40 more games Bernier, but neither goalie has been a full-time starter over an 82-game season. If you combine Reimer’s career high in games in a season in the NHL (37) and Bernier’s (25), it doesn’t even come close to equalling a full regular season.  Whether you think Reimer or Bernier is the real deal, the truth is that neither has proven it yet over a full campaign.

The Leafs have hedged their bets that one of the two goalies, who have played together before with Team Canada, will finally emerge in net. This is a team which a little over a year ago was forced to dress Jonas Gustavsson and Jussi Rynnas in the same game, and now their “issue” is that they have two goalies who both have strong track records to suggest they can both be true number one goalies in the NHL.

The trade also saw the Leafs lose a solid top nine forward in Matt Frattin. As things stand right now, the Leafs are slated to lose Bozak and MacArthur on top of already losing Frattin and Komarov from last season’s group. There are only seven forwards under contract right now for next season and they are Kessel, JVR, Lupul, Grabovski, Kulemin, McClement and Orr. Even if their remaining three RFAs (Colborne, Kadri and McLaren) are resigned, they’ll still have four holes to fill on forward.

It’s a deal that has left us with more questions than answers, but we do know the Leafs have upgraded in net with Bernier and the hope is that it pushes Reimer to be even better, too. Good goaltending pushed the Leafs into the playoffs this season, and they just got better in net in the overall sense. There are still massive holes to fill at center and defense, but if Bernier pans out in net for the Leafs and forms a strong tandem with Reimer, the Leafs didn’t give up much to do it and it’s going to help them throughout long 82-game seasons.

One thing we can all agree on is that this trade will have something great come out of it if it keeps Ilya Bryzgalov in Philadelphia.

Anthony Petrielli has been at MLHS since 2011. He is known for his weekly "Leafs Notebook" feature, and also writes specific analysis pieces. You can contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @APetrielli.
1909 comments
Don Quinlan
Don Quinlan

Reimer was not "lights out" as you put it! A goaltender with this monicker is a marquis player, which James Reimer is not nir will he EVER be! This insanity just refuses to stop regardless of how gigantic the writing on the wall so clearly is in Toronto. If Leafs management truly believed to any measurable extent that Reimer was THE guy going forward in net, Nonis would NEVER have made this deal (reportedly in the works for several months, further exemplifying the team's utter lack of confidence in the unfathomably over-rated James Reimer. Further to this point, if Nonis perceived Reimer as the Leafs "goalie of the future", he would never have brought in a young and relatively inexperienced wonderkin like Bernier; rather he would have in all likelihood brought in an inexpensive aging veteran near the end of his career to back-up and mentor Reimer. Make no mistake, Bernier did NOT leave LA to "back-up" ANYONE; certainly NOT James Reimer with his vast array of flaws and glaring weaknesses. Reimer, for all of his ostensibly impressive yet mis-leading stats is not niw nor will he EVER be #1 material. He goes down too eatly on almost EVERY shot (often well before the shot is fired), he plays too far back in his net, rarely challenges shooters and usually fails when he does possesses a truly TERRIBLE glove, has slow reflexes, poor judgement, panicks under pressure, has sub-par lateral movement, gets beaten 5-hole pretty much nightly as he lacks the rudimentary skill set and hockey sense to PUT HIS STICK ON THE ICE when he crouches into a butterfly stance (the few times he actually has thought to get his stick on the ice to block the five-hole, he angles it into a puck-ramp), he is attrocious at handling the puck (particularly behind the net), giving the disc away on a regular basis and most disturbingly of all, he gives up rebound after rebound right out in front or into the slot as opposed to directing them into the corner (see Tuuka Rask, Jonathan Quick, Henrik Lundquist, and the Leaf's new #1, Jonathan Bernier). Unlike Reimer, Bernier possesses incredible lateral movement, has a terrific glove, controls his rebounds effectively, handles the puck extremely well and most importantly, CONTROLS HIS REBOUNDS, giving up considerably fewer of them. The other enormously encouraging benefit of Bernier as the new starter is that the team will no longer have to radically alter their overall defemsive system in order to accomodate it's unreliable backstop. With Reimer, Randy Carlyle was forced to impliment a "collapse down low" system to clog up the shooting lanes and clear away Reimers endless array of dangerous rebounds, thusly leaving the points uncovered and unmanned (an obvious adjustment that seemed to completely elude a surprisingly frustrated Don Cherry!). Once Boston woke up and stopped taking the far inferior Leafs for granted, they soon took full advantage of this shortfall and began cycling the puck at will. Once the Leafs started to react to this, Reimer was left to his own devices. Result? A three goal lead evapirates late in the 3rd period of game 7 and the Leafs are defeated.

The most puzzling and infuriating aspect of that entire series was the COMPLETE lack of criticism of Reimer. In game 3, he surrenders 3 terrible goals in the 2nd period yet they don't even mention his name during the intermission?? Then he gets beaten point blank for the OT winner in game 4 to put the Leafs 3-1 in the series, but "he had no chance" on the shot?? Instead they villify Phaneuf for pinching and falling down which led to the scoring opportunity ad though it's his fault that Reimer failed to do what he's EXPECTED to do; STOP THE PUCK! Isn't that his job? Isn't the goaltender supposed to be the last line of defense??, Even in the aftermath of that fateful series, fingers of blame get pointed in literally EVERY direction EXCEPT the net! How can a goalie surrender 4 unanswered goals late in a Game 7 , two of which came lesd than a minute apart, including the series winner in OT to blow a late 3 goal lead when it lapppeared that his team had the series all but wrapped up and not be held even partially to blame?? BRUTAL!!

Notwithstanding my lengthy digression, the Leafs (thankfully) havr a new and clear-cut number one netminder who will prove both in short order and for years to come that he's the real deal and a franchise goaltender. I know many of you will be inclined to retort with Reimer's stats, but even those are largely artificial and misleading as the vast majority of rebounded saves he made were off of low percentage shots from the point, a direct result of the "collapse down low" defensive philosophy mentioned earlier.

Don't fret Leaf fans; the Bernier acquisition is the best thing to happen to the team in decades! You don't have to believe me; tine will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt why this guy more than deserved to be the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 entry draft!

As for James Reimer, he can finally become what he was always destined to be; a serviceable back-up (hopefully on another team!).

Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

While it was fun to watch the B's get their Waterloo,it only means they will still be hungry next season.

With Detroit switching over,it will be one tough Division to get out of alive.

Over to you Nonis.

daniel marois
daniel marois

And NYI give TOR significant to get Depietro off the books.  What would it be?  Dunno.  But I would think a swap of first rounders and one of their top prospects thrown in would do it. 

daniel marois
daniel marois

I hope something big happens this week.  I really feel Nonis has something big cooking.  Perhaps Luongo is on this way to NYI and they need Dipietro off the books and need TO to eat the contract.   

Dink
Dink

Seguins on NESN now..yada yada yada

Dink
Dink

Hockeys over, now be kind to Nonis boys and girls...lol

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

Refs had no effect on the Boston series with us.  Leafs lost that series due to bad coaching decisions in the last 5 minutes of the game.  I always hate when people blame the refs for stuff as it sounds like Jim Whiner Ralph when they do.

theacs1966
theacs1966

Don't start that, we'll sound like the Canucks.  We didn't lose because of the refs.

Knights2Leafs
Knights2Leafs

I never really hated the Bruins as much as the scabs or the turds, but I will never forgive them for causing the Leafs collapse.  The refs were completely complicit in allowing the Bruins to go into full scale war mode and if even a third of the proper calls had been made the collapse would never have taken place.

Oh, and plus I hate Sequins.

theacs1966
theacs1966

40 hrs or 2 sleeps till buyouts start.  Woo hoo!

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

Love it...I went to sleep after it was 2-1 figuring it was over.  Woke up to find that Boston got exactly what they dished out to Toronto :) satisfying. 

HeatherRickAkin
HeatherRickAkin

Some kinda team, Chicago. Loaded with stars and great supporting cast. Tons of speed and equal amounts of toughness. Leafs are Chicago-lite . I think the Buds are as fast, but don't have as much team resolve, yet. The Hawks look like the prototype the Leafs should model, and given the similarities, it isn't crazy to suggest that the Leafs aren't that far off the Hawks. Still need some parts, but UFA's, compliance buyouts, trades...all may become factors very quickly .

Snots
Snots

The bear...hibernates  

how ironic

Kouba
Kouba

Wasn't here sice we the Leafs were eliminated, do I have to create a new profile if my previous was on Disquis?

Savo43
Savo43

Man i dont know what to expect, im up late excited of possible scenarios moving forward LOL. Damnit draft, hurry up!!! 

Great Dane
Great Dane

So in less than 48 hours it all starts. Going to be very interesting.

Confident that Nonis has two or three moves up his sleeves.  Our "friend" Howie said that you can not have a GM that is emotionally attached to the players. Fully agree. 

You can agree or disagree with the moves that Nonis makes, but you have to respect that he working only to improve the Leafs.


Savo43
Savo43

If Chicago wasn't your 2nd favourite team from their success against the Canucks in the past...they definitely gotta be your #2 after tonight. WOOOOO! Bolland, whatta beauty. Cameron where are ya! How could you not want that guy, cmahhhhhn! ;)

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Proteautype: Patrice Bergeron suffered a broken rib, torn cartilage and separated shoulder. No, he wasn't in a car crash. He was in the playoffs.

DJBrianBurke
DJBrianBurke

Just saw Julien's post game and the called the Leaf's game 7 crazier. What ever gets you through the night Claude. That was just for the cup buddy.

Black_Hawk
Black_Hawk

What was the Jonas Tweet about boys?

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Amazing how one fake Jonas tweet can destroy the mood here. Some troll is roaring right now.

Dangle_My_Berries
Dangle_My_Berries

im worried that Cameron seems worried.....I cant see Nonis doing something stupid and ruining what we have 

Cameron19
Cameron19

Well, I'm off to bed before I get too upset about how Nonis is going to ruin the team this week. 

B_Leaf
B_Leaf

Chara had a rough game tonight...Julien played him a ton against us...maybe burnt him out a bit

Dangle_My_Berries
Dangle_My_Berries

somewhere a cabbie spit out his late night scotch after watching Patrick Kane win the Con Smythe

mcloki
mcloki

17 seconds

I love it.

B_Leaf
B_Leaf

We would have a pretty tough team if we signed Bickell and Clarkson. 

B_Leaf
B_Leaf

I wonder if the Leafs will go after Bickell

gunner_36
gunner_36

Later gents. I can't wait for the action to heat up this week. Go Leafs Go! 

JMAC17
JMAC17

Joe McDonald ‏@ESPNJoeyMac

2m

Seguin admits: “I’ve had same problems [hip] my whole life. I didn’t say anything last year, so I don’t want to say anything yet.”

daniel marois
daniel marois

Man I can't wait till Wed nite.  Crazy how many people waiting for the first buyouts after 11pm!!

Tim Horton
Tim Horton

Any of you old guys know Bobby Baun..  He is staying at the hotel my girlfriend works at, she told him I was a leaf fan and he gave her a signed leafs hat.  Pretty cool, even if he was a bit before my time.

Zep2
Zep2

The box score shows 2-1 Hawks , 31-23 SOG  despite minors against the Hawks and 2 against the Bruins

The best team won despite the refs. Its a novel idea but refreshing


wendelsfist
wendelsfist

Don Cherry always high tails it out of HNIC when he gets his predictions of who will win the game incorrect

wendelsfist
wendelsfist

Crawford is going to struggle next year when they shrink his pads.  

daniel marois
daniel marois

Noticed that two of the CHi players whose hometown is in ONT chose Wendel Clark as their favourite player growing up.  Atta BOYS!

Leafs_17
Leafs_17

anyone think Kane gets the Conn Smythe cause he is American? 

Cameron19
Cameron19

Did you guys already talk about the intermission comment that Roy made?  Apparently they already have MacKinnon slotted into their 3rd line C role.

daniel marois
daniel marois

Glad to finally see the best team in the league win the CUp.  Been a long time. 

daniel marois
daniel marois

WOW.  Did u see the amount of people in CHi celebrating??  Those are real hockey fans LA!

Leafs_17
Leafs_17

wow pretty crazy view of chi-town right now 

Zep2
Zep2

Surreal is the catchword of the 2013 SC Final