“LEAFS TRADED FOR BERNIER” is the text I received at 12:55 PM today.
Minutes before the Toronto Blue Jays were about to go for their 11th straight victory, the Toronto Maple Leafs stole the spotlight by announcing they had acquired goaltender, Jonathan Bernier, from the Los Angeles Kings. A quick scan of Twitter and Facebook proves that Leafs fans are torn. Well, I’m a Leafs fan, and I’m torn too.
To Toronto: Jonathan Bernier (Goalie)
To Los Angeles: Ben Scrivens (Goalie), Matt Frattin (Forward), 2nd Round Pick in 2014 or 2015, and cash
I’m torn because I love and hate this trade at the same time.
I hate this trade because Bernier has played a grand total of 62 NHL games since he was drafted in 2006. It’s not his fault he’s been stuck behind Jonathan Quick all these years. But to be heralded as a number one goalie when he hasn’t proven to be one yet, just reminds me of Justin Pogge and how he was the “chosen one.” Tuukka Rask is still laughing about that. Regardless of Bernier’s 2.36 GAA in his career, it comes with a small sample size of 62 games over 5 seasons.
I also hate this trade because of what it might mean for James Reimer. I have been skeptical of Reimer since day one. As fans graced him with the Optimus Reim nickname, there was still something that I didn’t really trust. Then the Leafs made the playoffs. Then they almost knocked off the Boston Bruins in the first round. Reimer finally earned my trust as a Leafs fan. Now, after almost leading us (I say “us” because I think fans have a certain level of ownership over their favourite team) to the second round, he has to compete with a guy who has proven to be a good backup. A good backup? Come on. To not put faith and trust in Reimer is a bit shocking to me. Maybe when Brian Burke said Reimer was the “real deal”, he was the only one in the organization who believed that.
Now for why I love this trade. If Bernier is as good as advertised, the Leafs have the best 1-2 goalie punch they have had in a long time. I think it’s easy sometimes, as fans, to believe that a team must have one starting goalie who can play 60-70 games each year and have a backup to do mop-up duty. The 2009-2010 Philadelphia Flyers didn’t have a goalie start more than 33 games in the regular season. Come playoff time, Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher split time in net almost evenly. That team came within two wins of the Stanley Cup. I’m not suggesting the Leafs are the 2010 Flyers, or can reach the finals by splitting the net with two goalies. All I’m saying is it’s been done before.
When you look at what the Leafs gave up, at first it might seem like a lot. And it might be. But, none of the assets the Leafs gave up seemed like assets they MUST keep. A 2nd round draft pick in 2014 or 2015 – I can live with that. Ben Scrivens…many people forget he was actually the starting goalie in the first game of the season in Montreal. I liked the guy. Was he ever going to overtake Reimer’s job? I don’t think so. So, to move him, and get another goalie back who seems to have more upside (based on reports), then I’m all for it.
That leads me to Matt Frattin. I think it’s safe to say he found a soft spot in the heart of Leafs Nation. From his first game, he came out with energy, speed, hits, and a knack to find the back of the net. He was a streaky player who never got a chance to contribute on a regular basis. I’ll miss him in the lineup, sure. But, do the Leafs have other players coming up that would make him expendable? Absolutely. Jerry D’amigo. Tyler Biggs. Joe Colborne. Thank you Brian Burke for filling the cupboard.
So is it Yay or Nay for Bernier? I really don’t know. Luckily, games are played on the ice and not in the minds of people who think they know everything. All I know is that a “goalie controversy” storyline will be played out in the media just like it was in Vancouver with Luongo/Schneider. I trust Randy Carlyle enough, though, to go with his gut on who to put in net. After all, James Reimer was not his starter at the beginning of this season.
This is only the beginning for Dave Nonis. Is a Phaneuf trade on the horizon? I hope so. Twitter suggests the Leafs are interested in Sam Gagner. I would be too, but as a replacement to Grabovski. In my mind, Grabovski’s shelf life is up. He makes too much money to not produce offensively. I’d also like to see the Leafs make a run at Stephen Weiss. A solid faceoff guy who can add grit and some scoring down the middle. They were beaten up by the Bruins’ centres in the playoffs.
The NHL season might be ending, but the fun is just starting. I cannot wait for the draft next week and Gary Bettman to say the magic words, “I have a trade to announce.”