Bernier the Boats

Bernier the Boats

2585

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.

SIMILAR ARTICLES

1970 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.

Bernier Overrated
Bernier Overrated

@Don Quinlan Bernier has had marginally better stats than his partners or backups who you have never heard of his whole career. Only 2009/10 was he much better than his partner/backup. Talk about a "misleading" draft pick that is overrated because his stats sure don't prove it!!! 

Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

@Don Quinlan 

Go in peace my troubled son.

May your many sorrows be cast aside, as the brilliance of one savior rises like the Coyote from the ashes.

And you will know his name as King James as he lay his vengeance upon thee and those who doubt.

Then likely apologize, maybe buy you something to eat.

Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

@Dink 

"Ma hip ...ma hip"

"I'm not going to talk about it though"

Pain must have shot straight to his hands lol

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@TheCanucksnaphook I think so as well.  Anyone with the cajones to get Bernier after Reimer made himself a fan favorie obviously has the cajones to do about anything.  And I thought he would be a buttoned down, conservative, stay the course kinda guy.

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@Dink hehehehe got a " real funny " feeling Nonis is going to be a big topic of conversation in the next couple of days 

Knights2Leafs
Knights2Leafs

@peterbleafs 

There were many things that contributed to the Leafs loss including bad coaching in the last 5 minutes but to ignore the obvious bad refereeing just means we're lame enough to accept it.  Last night's was a perfect example of game management by the referees.

Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

@peterbleafs 

Refs affect the game simply because thay call it differently post season.

Now some years,esp after the "crackdown" on obstruction,it was less noticible.

This year,it was borderline ridiculous,and enabled a team like the Bruins greatly

Thing is, it would have helped the Leafs too had we made it further.

If any team had the right to freak out over the officiating,it was The Penguins.

Knights2Leafs
Knights2Leafs

@theacs1966 

Not just for the Leafs, but for the league overall the refereeing was disgraceful all  year including both the regular season and playoffs.  Boston's chances were significantly elevated when the whistles were put away in every series they played in.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@Uncle Otis @peterbleafs I felt the Leafs were physically intimidated by the Bruins in the last minutes of that game 7  - right after Kelly smashed his elbow in JVR's face and there was no call.  I think it did make a difference, because aside from Pahneuf, who had to stay out of the penalty box, the Leafs do not have a dependable tough hockey player.  The Bruins have many tough guys who can play and score and looked to be running around untethered in those last minutes.

theacs1966
theacs1966

@Knights2Leafs @theacs1966 Any one notice the linesmen for the most part just dropped the puck?   Also see the chick after the 3rd goal, I think she was with the Crawford camp, she looked like a girl at a Beatles concert.

Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

@-Keon- 

hahaha

He would have, but was busy thinking of a comeback for McGill's taunts

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@-Keon- Hahahaha a world full of Keon"s. Wouldn't that be fun :)

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@-Keon- If everyone thought alike it would be a dull world indeed lol

Dink
Dink

@-Keon- I think he does too, at least we can allow him to show us

Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

@MaxwellHowe @Uncle Otis 

I don't think they were physically intimidated at that stage at all,although that Kelly elbow/non call was obscene. "Playoff hockey"? BULLSHIT!

The combination of a prevent defense,the Leafs(like us) thinking it was over,players easing up,then tightening up once the levee broke and some so-so goaltending contributed to a perfect (shit) storm

Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

@canuckintheuk @TheCanucksnaphook 

Coaches in my league ,for the most part,hate Dion.

Say he spends too much time in the slot doing the stationary sweep check and not being physical.

Sometimes,they have a point.

But he is a very polarizing player.

Me ,I see him as a dependable, solid  ice muncher,but not the second coming/irreplaceable as some here feel.

Knights2Leafs
Knights2Leafs

@Great Dane

Okay, as long as I don't have to respect Marchand.  I respect his game but not his assholedness.