27-Year-Old Goalie – Toronto Maple Leafs
Jonathan Bernier Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $8.3 million contract with the Maple Leafs in August 2015.
Bernier made 14 saves after replacing starter James Reimer at the 7:38 mark of the first period Saturday in a pounding by the Senators. He allowed three goals.
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Jonathan Bernier: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
A year ago, a goalie controversy swirled in the Big Smoke, but it didn't take long for Bernier to emerge as the clear-cut starter. The former backup to Jonathan Quick finished with 26-19-7 with one shutout, a 2.69 GAA and a .923 save percentage. Fast-forward a year, and there's once again a chance that Bernier will have to earn that top gig. James Reimer re-signed in Toronto this past summer and he told reporters that Leafs' brass told him there is a "definite opportunity" for him to win the starter's gig. Expect Bernier to record his first career 30-win season, mortar up a few more shutouts and lower that GAA. His save percentage was already the sixth-best in the NHL, so a straight repeat of that will be just fine.
Could a goalie controversy be brewing in the Big Smoke? The Leafs acquired this talented and athletic twinetender just before the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and promptly signed him to a two-year, $5.8 million deal Ö all while having a so-called starter (James Reimer) under contract. The Buds have said both men will get an equal shot at the starter's gig, but it's hard to imagine they'd pay Bernier the money they're paying him to be a back-up. At worst, this combo hybrid-butterfly goalie will be in a platoon. At best, he'll get 60-65 percent of the starts. And in Randy Carlyle's defensive system, Bernier will deliver great totals in wins, GAA and save percentage.
Bernier is the Kings' goalie of the future but Jonathan Quick's solid netminding kept Bernier on the bench for much of last season. He was solid (11-8, three shutouts, .913 save percentage, 2.48 GAA) when he did play, but nothing that was going to take over the position from the workhorse Quick. The Kings have playoff aspirations again this year but Bernier figures to enter the season behind as the No. 2 netminder on the depth chart once again.
Bernier was brilliant in his second full season in the AHL: He sported a 30-21-6 record, 2.03 goals-against average, .936 save percentage, and nine shutouts. He opened some eyes by going 3-0 with a 1.30 GAA in three starts for the Kings, filling in for the injured Erik Ersberg in March. Jonathan Quick had a fine regular season and while the Kings view Bernier as their goalie of the future, it remains unclear how soon they want to hand over the reigns in a season where they fully expect to contend in the Western Conference. Bernier could find himself as a backup, the starter in the AHL, or even the starter for the Kings as training camp opens. He's got plenty of talent but may not have an opportunity to shine unless Quick stumbles.
Bernier entered the season with an eye on the starting job in LA and got off to a slow start in the AHL after he failed to win the job. He got bypassed in favor of Jonathan Quick for a midseason promotion, mainly so he could play regularly in the minors. He'll battle Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Quick for the starting job again this preseason but might be headed back to the AHL if he can't win the starting job instead of filling a backup role for the Kings. His future remains very bright.
Bernier's clearly the team's goaltender of the future but would be better served by playing a full season at Manchester of the AHL than starting 35 games for the Kings. The Kings' goalie situation will likely be settled during training camp and Bernier could come in and steal the starting job but his fantasy upside is limited on what figures to be a poor Kings team.
Bernier continued to move up the charts as a top prospect as he starred for Team Canada in the Junior Olympics. The Kings hope that he is the long-term solution to their goaltending woes, which was clearly the team's biggest weakness in 2006-07. He led Lewiston to the QMJHL championship and starred for Canada as a 19-year-old. Given his age, the Kings probably won't elevate him to the No. 1 slot this season, but keep him in mind for keeper leagues and as a high-upside, late-round selection in one-year formats.
As with most goaltenders, he's going to need a few years in the minors before he gets a shot at making the Kings.
Bernier is the top-ranked netminder from the 2006 draft class and for good reason. He posted a .908 save percentage in the QMJHL, a league otherwise known as the offense-only circuit. He boasts excellent post-to-post movement, is strong with his angles and is a pretty nifty stickhandler, too. Moreover, he's extremely athletic and has already shown the ability to "steal" games. He projects as a number one man in the NHL, albiet that's a few years off.