The Toronto Maple Leafs off-season re-tooling continues as they traded goaltender Jonathan Bernier to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick in 2017. Lou Lamoriello announced the deal after a scrimmage during the Leafs development camp.
It has been an up and down battle for Bernier in Toronto. The Leafs originally acquired him for Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin and a second round pick from the Los Angeles Kings back in 2013. He had a good first season going 26-19-7 posting a.923 save percentage. Bernier then struggled immensely after that, going a combined 33-49-10 the next two seasons. His save percentage dipped way below .920 and had a goals against average of 2.87 in 2014/15 and 2.88 in 2015/16.
Bernier was not the same goaltender they acquired in 2013. He seemed to be off his game and was constantly letting in weak goals that left fans scratching their heads.
They finally addressed their issue in net by acquiring Frederik Andersen from the Ducks this year. The Leafs then signed him to a five- year, $25- million contract. This deal ultimately sealed Bernier’s fate in Toronto. Now with Bernier gone, Andersen will officially assume the role as the number one.
Andersen ranked 10th among NHL goaltenders with a 2.30 goals against average and 17th in save percentage with a .919. Bernier wasn’t even ranked in the top 30 in each category.
The Ducks will be paying Bernier $2.15- million as the Leafs had already paid Bernier’s bonus of two-million dollars on July 1st as per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 8, 2016
With Bernier gone, the Leafs now have $3,555,916 in cap space.
Lamoriello stated that they felt that this was the best move for the organization. He has also indicated that the Leafs are in search of an experienced back-up and will acquire one before training camp.
There are a number of intriguing names that are still available on the free- agent market. Most notable names include Karri Ramo, Anders Lindback and Jhonas Enroth. All three are viable options and have had reasonable success as back-up goaltenders. This will also give more time for Garret Sparks and Antoine Bibeau to develop. The Leafs could also acquire a back-up goaltender via a trade.
At the end of the day, this deal had to be done.
It was clear that Bernier wasn’t going to be the answer after Andersen was acquired. While saying that, Bernier will most likely assume the back-up role in Anaheim as the Ducks have elected to go with youngster John Gibson as their starter (I’d be shocked if they didn’t). Bernier was good, but he was never great and couldn’t meet the expectations of management as a starter.
When Bernier’s name came up in trade talk in 2013, he wanted to move on from being in the shadows of Jonathan Quick and become a starter. It seems as if Bernier is still trying to make a name for himself after inconsistencies and failed attempts to take control of the number one spot. However, it looks like this will not take place any time soon.