The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded goaltender Jonathan Bernier to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
Bernier was relegated to the backup role for most of the season after struggling early in the season. Bernier played in 38 games last year and started in 36 of them. He was 12-21-3 with a .908 save percentage, a 2.28 goals against average and three shutouts. He started four games for the Leafs’ AHL Affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, and was 4-0-0 with a 1.25 goals and three shutouts. In 213 career NHL games, he is 88-88-23 with a 2.67 goals against average. He also has a .915 save percentage and 12 shutouts in his career.
Bernier was selected in the first round (11th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings. He was traded to the Maple Leafs by the Kings in 2013 for Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin and a second round draft pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
The goalie has quick reflexes and he can shake off bad goals and turn his game around pretty quick. When he is on his game, Bernier plays with confidence, is square to the shooter, tracks the puck well and will even make the spectacular save. The downside is that he when he is off his game, he plays poorly and isn’t focused. He allows too many bad goals and can fight the puck at times. He went 0-8-3 to start the season, but he only played in two games in November. He then had another stretch where he went 0-6-1, but in his defense, the Maple Leafs didn’t have the best defense last season.
The Ducks needed a backup goaltender so they went out and got one. The move could be good for Bernier since he will reunited with Randy Carlyle, the former Maple Leafs coach. Carlyle took over after the Ducks fired Bruce Boudreau after they failed to get passed the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs. The starting job will go to the soon to be 23-year-old John Gibson, who had a pretty good season for them last year.
There weren’t many options in the free agent market for a backup goalie and the Ducks get an expiring contract in the deal. Bernier’s cap hit is $4.15 million for the season, but Toronto already paid him the $2 million signing bonus so the Ducks will only be on the hook for $2.1 million. Bernier is a veteran goalie who can spot Gibson when he’s hurt or just needs a game off. He can also step into the starter’s role should Gibson struggle. Bernier will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
The Leafs will now need to go and find a backup goalie of their own whether it is through free agency or via trade.