Talking Jonathan Bernier & James Reimer with The Goalie Guild

Talking Jonathan Bernier & James Reimer with The Goalie Guild

by -
1179

The more I think about the Jonathan Bernier trade, the more I realize it was a straight-up judgment call by the Leafs‘ pro scouts (led by Steve Kasper, this staff includes Mike Penny, Tom Watt and Rob Cowie.. the trade also likely involved a consultation with amateur scout Mike Palmateer). While Bernier has an edge in pedigree based on his draft position, projecting goaltender development can be alchemy and neither Scrivens or Bernier have significant enough sample sizes to their name to really know what either could become. James Reimer’s biggest workload in a single season is 37 games, so despite what he proved in his first stint as a rookie and then again in the shortened season, there is still a fair amount of projection involved in definitively labeling Reimer a high end starter as well.

Why not turn to goalie scout Justin Goldman, Director of Goalie Scouting at McKeen’s Hockey, for his take?

Whose ceiling would you say is higher? Bernier or Reimer?

Justin Goldman: I would say Bernier’s ceiling is higher. I know the stats don’t necessarily reflect this due to Bernier’s smaller sample size and Reimer’s better-than-expected season, but in terms of which goalie has the higher talent ceiling, I believe that is Bernier. This doesn’t answer the question of who will be more successful in a Leafs uniform next season, but rather who I feel is capable of being more talented at stopping the puck down the line. Remember, sheer talent isn’t everything — those hidden mental traits like work ethic go a long way in winning games. That being said, Bernier has made some great adjustments and tweaks to his style over the past few seasons in limited games played, while I feel like Reimer, who has also made some good adjustments, has more work to do. There’s no way to know how it will play out, so maybe the gap between the two will end up being smaller than I’ve been led to believe through my observations and research. Toronto wouldn’t have invested in a deal like this if they didn’t think Bernier could be as good as Reimer, or better. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

What do you make of the concerns about Bernier’s size?

JG: From my perspective, I’m not really worried. One of Bernier’s main strengths is his overall solid positional base for a smaller goalie. He doesn’t over-pursue a lot of shots and he does an excellent job of squaring up to pucks and playing big for his size. His net coverage is better than what you usually see from 5-11 or 6-0 guys. The ones that are thriving in the NHL (Enroth, Bachman) find ways to look and play big…and Bernier is arguably at the top of that list. He’s also made some key changes to play even bigger since his rookie season. This includes adjusting the placement of his glove, and his overall depth management as well. He is also very patient on his skates, to the point where he’ll even make some saves standing up. He also reads plays really well and is way stronger and more physically fit than most people realize. As long as he continues to exhibit those traits on a consistent basis, I think it’s only a matter of time before fans get over the “lack-of-size” concerns. That being said, size is tangible, so this is an area where Reimer has an advantage…and that’s how it always goes with a smaller goalie being compared to a guy 2-3″ taller.

Do you buy into the concerns about Reimer’s glove hand and rebound control? Is Bernier better in those areas?

JG: I’ve seen games where both goalies struggle and excel in both departments, but I don’t think Bernier’s glove hand is as much of an area of concern as it is for Reimer. Every goalie in the NHL will have their glove hand exposed at times because it’s getting harder and harder for guys to catch pucks cleanly. Look at Corey Crawford and what he had to deal with in the Stanley Cup Finals. I also think rebound control is one of those aspects of goaltending where it is as much situational as it is tactical. Sometimes it really just depends on the situation (shot and zone setup dynamics), and on what type of rhythm a goalie is in. Because Bernier has a smaller sample size, I can’t say if he’s legitimately better than Reimer. From my own observations, however, I do think Bernier is better at puck management. That skill includes not only just absorbing and placing initial shots, but how a goalie handles it around his crease area — knowing when to cover and freeze it, knowing when to jump-start a transition with a quick outlet pass, and knowing when to reach out and poke pucks away, or stay “home” and keep the ice sealed. In that regard, I would give the edge in this skill to Bernier. But Reimer, at least in my opinion, seemed to make improvements in that area this season.

You wrote for the Leafs Annual one summer that you didn’t think the Leafs did a particularly good job supporting Reimer, or Gustavsson before him. Does this help/push Reimer, or hurt him by generating a controversy in nets?

JG: How this trade affects Reimer is totally up to him. On the surface, I believe the move will only drive up the competition in goal, and that is almost always a positive in a coach’s and GM’s eyes. It may bother and rattle James at first, but there’s no changing it now, so he’ll have no other option than to work even harder this summer to get better. The trade may not translate to more wins and a second-round playoff berth for the Leafs next season, but it will force both guys to work harder, and the harder you work, the more likely you are to improve. I thought Ben Scrivens did a great job in a support/backup role this past season, but Bernier comes in with a “chip on his shoulder” and something to prove to the hockey world — that he can be a solid, steady, consistent starter. If there’s a controversy, that’s almost always fan and media generated, and an NHL goalie knows that they can only focus on what they can control. So regardless of what’s going on around them, or how they are perceived by the fans and portrayed by the media, I am confident they will both be better as a result of this move. It all comes down to who performs better in the opportunities they get. I like it for that sole purpose — we’re now going to see what both goalies are truly made of, and all the uncertainty surrounding their long-term upside will become more clear as they play more games.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
942 comments
Black_Hawk
Black_Hawk

Cant believe the flyers bought out Bryzgalov. What a stupid move. He was gonna return to form this year and be a superstar im sure. 

ingy56
ingy56

Now there's a fake Dreger tweeting...probably the same as fake Jonas

leafmealone
leafmealone

Not sure who else read Friedman's latest 30 thoughts. But if Nonis does manage to get himself a 1C from somewhere this summer than I'm immediately nicknaming that player "the rabbit". Cause Nonis will have had to have done some serious magic to pull him out of the hat.

Later all.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

TSNBobMcKenzie: Even teams that have no plans to buy out are hedging a bit to see what trades happen that may affect their cap. Such as MIN, BUF etc.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

TSNBobMcKenzie: Following teams, IMO, not likely to buy out: ANA, BOS, BUF, CGY, CAR, COL, CBJ, DAL, FLA, LA, MIN, NJ, NSH, OTT, PHX, SJ, STL, WSH, WPG.

The_Polish_Cannon
The_Polish_Cannon

You honestly think they'll pay millions upon millions of dollars for a second and third round pick? Should be a top prospect and their first at least

Dangle_My_Berries
Dangle_My_Berries

DiPietro may be the big buyout option we can find.....the islanders have prospects ripe for the picking

Dink
Dink

All this buyout crud is getting so old, I say let the buggers who signed players to all these stupid contracts fend for themselves.

Aaron Chan
Aaron Chan

Anthony SanFilippo @AnthonySan37 8m

#Flyers chairman Ed Snider comments on the Bryzgalov buyout: http://bit.ly/16zW3nI  #NHL

Retweeted by Philadelphia Flyers

"Jeniya and I really appreciate his faith in me and what he has done for our family. Mr. Snider has an amazing energy for the deals he does and for winning. Hockey fans in this area should consider themselves lucky to have the team they cheer for led by a man who is as passionate about winning and doing whatever it takes to win as Flyers’ fans are." -Bryzgalov

HeatherRickAkin
HeatherRickAkin

I believe there have been posts stating the NHL wouldn't allow a move such as T Bay trading Lecav to the Leafs (with the T Bay #3 pick), then the Leafs buy out Lecav, and TBay then signs him on the cheap. I think its now official...that would frowned upon by the league . Too bad. Wonder if Long Island is still an option ???

TheColborneUltimatum
TheColborneUltimatum

If I was Edmonton I would consider trading Hopkins. He's my guess for who will be a bust. Always gets injured and is pretty small. Not denying his skill though. I would trade high on this kid to fill out other areas of need.

Area49th
Area49th

Do you think Sequin was thrown to the wolves too early, and expectations were too large?

DWCMLHS
DWCMLHS

The Leafs shouldn't have to buy-out Liles. A team without a good PPQB should be happy to have him for a pick and under $4 million/year. Look at the money teams are paying Gonchar, Streit and Wideman.

unclejakescards
unclejakescards

or , tampa trades lecavalier to isles for depietro , then they trade depietro and lecavalier , along with other great assets to leafs for komi and grabbo .......... then leafs buy them out , then bolts can re-sign vinny ???? lolololol

Jon520
Jon520

Geez....i wish Paul Ranger would make up his mind......top 4 in Tampa, could help the Leafs D......great shot from the point!

BPsotka
BPsotka

I suspect that nothing will happen in the sense of (for example) Vinny traded to leafs, bought out, resigning with Lightning. I don't think teams will be willing to give up so much to pay the leafs to buy out a contract only to renegotiate with a player. If players are traded then bought out, I doubt they will return to their original team. Not to mention I bet Montreal would offer an incredible amount to Vinny to get him in Blue red and white.

unclejakescards
unclejakescards

honestly, if lightning were willing to trade lecavalier to leafs so they could buy him out , then re-sign him ...... not being able to re-sign him afterwards shouldnt really play a part in the decision to buy him out , they can try to sign or trade for someone else to take his spot ......... the decision to buy him out is the important decision ....... make sense ???

unclejakescards
unclejakescards

interesting , jamie mclennan just said he believes depietro and another asset will be traded so depietro can be bought out . said isles do not have the money to do it . almost sounded he was sure about it .....

LeoTheLion
LeoTheLion

Lebrun on TSN Radio: "Leafs want to be married to Kessel long term." 

Good. 

About Phaneuf: "will take calls but not interested in moving him."

Good.

I can breathe again.

Dink
Dink

I would think Smith would be on Phillys radar

unclejakescards
unclejakescards

interesting that more teams are wanting to keep the leverage with players when they still have a year left , rather then wait til the last year of deal around deadline ........ nashville sure learned the hard way ...

Dink
Dink

I think we are gonna see a few premature retirements this summer because of this accursed cap.

ingy56
ingy56

Boston Bruins ‏@NHLBruins

1m

PC said Patrice is fine; clarified it was small puncture in his lung that likely happened postgame (wouldn't have been able to play w/it)^CS

Jon520
Jon520

carolina looking for a top 4 defenceman for their 5th pic.......dion?

Dangle_My_Berries
Dangle_My_Berries

Leiwiki wants to buy picks/prospects....MLSE cash vault is open from what I gather from all this 

Dangle_My_Berries
Dangle_My_Berries

TSN 1050 talking about Leafs loophole closing on Vinny deal 

ShotsFired
ShotsFired

What if we got Nathan Horton? Intriguing option although... he may want too much $$$

ingy56
ingy56

So Allaire is not a fan of Bernier's eh? I like this deal even more now. 

Aaron Chan
Aaron Chan

Who would have thought that a billionaire business man wouldn't enjoy some healthy speculation/engagement.

"Some media and some of the blogosphere are trying to feed their machines; columns and predictions and rumors are generated and recirculated." -Ted Leonsis

Link: http://bit.ly/18gdRrQ

1DERYRS
1DERYRS

I like this...

12. As we approach what could be a wild draft week, GMs to watch include MacTavish: "He's got his fingers in everything," said one compatriot. Another? Dave Nonis of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Somewhere this off-season, he is determined to get a high-level centre.

ingy56
ingy56

So would anyone take on Malone for Tampa's second pick and either use him for two seasons or buy him out?

Jon520
Jon520

imho, Leafs should flex their financial muscle more.....ie approach nyi to take dipietro's contract AND Griffen Reinhart....use a clemensy buyout on rick so there is no cap hit and gain a blue chip defenceman.....deals like this only a few teams, like the Leafs can do.....Leafs have to use EVERY tool they have!