Between attempts to acquire Roberto Luongo, Miikka Kiprusoff, and now reportedly Jonathan Bernier, it just doesn’t feel like Leafs management is fully behind James Reimer being “the guy,” does it? Listen in here to Bob McKenzie on the TSN Insider podcast, as McKenzie calls the Leafs interest in Bernier legitimate, and says Leafs brass “like Reimer’s game but don’t love it.”
By now you all probably know Reimer’s numbers. He’s played over 100 games, has a career .915sv%, he played well in the playoffs, and just seems to have that temperament that is tailor fit to the Toronto market. There is one glaring issue with Reimer though, and that’s where the goalie hunt comes into play – he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.
When you boil the Bernier interest down, Reimer’s health has to be the main concern for Leafs management here. Since playing junior, Reimer has played over 60 games once and that was during the 2006-07 season. This season Reimer got hurt, last season Reimer got hurt, and the season before that he played a combined 52 games.
So, it seems pretty clear that the Leafs don’t necessarily question his ability to be the guy, but they might question whether he can stay healthy and take on the true starter’s workload that goes along with it. It’s a legitimate concern if you’re Leafs management.
Within that line of thinking, the question then becomes whether or not Bernier is better than Scrivens, and if he is, is it a big enough difference to be worth giving up assets?
Bernier is turning 25 this year and was drafted 11th overall back in 2006. He’s played 115 AHL games putting up a .927sv% and a 2.19GAA, as well as 62 NHL games with a .912sv% and 2.36GAA.
Conversely, Scrivens is turning 27 this year and was an undrafted free agent. He has 94 AHL games under his belt with a .923sv% and 2.18GAA along with 32 games on NHL experience at a .910sv% and 2.86GAA.
Stats aside, Scrivens is bigger than Bernier and also under contract for next year, whereas Bernier will need a new deal.
Anytime Nonis has spoken since the playoffs ended, he has discussed that the team is looking to improve. If they believe Bernier is better than Scrivens – even though the stats are close — then that fits the bill with what he is preaching. Even if they do think Reimer is the real deal, there’s just no way they can go into next season not prepared for a potential Reimer injury.
And that has to be the debate going on within Leafs management right now: Should they keep Scrivens as their 1B, content to have him take the reigns if Reimer goes down, or should they bring in Bernier?
If they do bring in Bernier, Bob McKenzie has said a few times now that the likely cost would be some sort of pick/prospect plus Matt Frattin.
Although I like Frattin and think he’s a good player, losing him isn’t a huge loss especially if Bernier comes in and provides the excellent goaltending he is capable of providing. The unknown pick/prospect aside (which could be significant), you also have to take into account that if the Leafs trade away Frattin they have also lost Leo Komarov to the KHL and Clarke MacArthur is a pending UFA. None of those players played a high-end role on the Leafs, but each were valuable depth contributors that moved up and down the line-up and chipped in some offense.
If the Leafs were to lose all three of those depth players, they would be looking at a bottom six of Jay McClement, Colton Orr, and maybe Nik Kulemin right now, along with some potential Marlies candidates including Joe Colborne. Basically, Nonis would be creating more holes that need to be filled in order to facilitate a position that was, for all intents and purposes, one of their strongest last year.
Plus, Nonis would have to trade Scrivens afterward.
Considering the Leafs have substantially bigger issues at center and defense, it’s a little strange that goalie might be the position the Leafs make noise with first. For all we know they aren’t really interested in Bernier and reporters want those page views, but as Alec said yesterday, we thought the same thing when the Kiprusoff rumours started appearing.
It is a little curious that Nonis would be willing to trade for an unproven goalie considering he did this before in Vancouver to dismal results. Nonis traded a second round pick to Buffalo in exchange for a different young goalie with potential who was drafted in the first round, Mika Noronen. Noronen played four games for Vancouver and got shelled, Nonis decided enough was enough and acquired Luongo that summer, and Noronen stated he didn’t want to be an NHL backup and signed in Russia.
They are different situations, no doubt, but considering the Leafs are in pretty good shape in net at a cheap price, you would figure Nonis has bigger fish to fry.
UPDATE: Jonathan Bernier traded to Leafs