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Past Fantasy Outlooks
It’s been quite the whirlwind for Bernier, whose NHL career began in LA. He showed steady progress as a backup over a five-year span and would even lift Lord Stanley's chalice with the Kings in 2012. But the Quebec native was ultimately traded to the Maple Leafs, and despite supplanting James Reimer as the starter, Bernier endured a major performance tailspin, prompting the buyout of his second contract with the club -- originally set at an eye-popping $8.3 million over two seasons. He now finds himself with the lowly Avalanche on the heels of a disappointing four-game playoff run with the Ducks -- 1-2-0 record, 3.29 GAA and .873 save percentage. Bernier will play second fiddle to Semyon Varlamov, but given the Russian’s checked injury history, a prime spot could open up. Still, the Avalanche posted an egregious minus-112 goal differential last year and are exploring ways to get an acceptable return for star pivot Matt Duchene, meaning wins should be few and very far between.
Bernier is coming off the lowest season of his career. He posted a 12-21-3 record with a 2.88 GAA and .908 save percentage with the Leafs, and things got so bad that he even saw time in the AHL in an attempt to shake up his game. Bernier's focus seemed to be off – there were just too many games where his attention wavered and the puck squirted right through him. #UglyGoals could have been the nameplate on his jersey But then again, the Toronto defense was best described as porous, so those numbers weren't all on him. Still, Bernie never really fit into the bright lights and intense focus of the center of the hockey universe, so a return to the relative anonymity of the left coast will probably be great for his game. And so will a return to playing for coach Randy Carlyle. John Gibson is the man in the Ducks' blue paint now, so Bernier will likely see 25 games in 2016-17. He excelled in that type of role in Los Angeles a few short years ago. Playing behind a solid defense in a backup role could be just what the doctor ordered for Bernie to regain his confidence. And maybe, just maybe, earn a starter's ticket again in a couple of years.
For the third straight season, there’s an open competition in net for the Leafs. Last season, Bernier seized the starter’s reins early, but he didn’t exactly set the world on fire. He finished 21-28-7 with two shutouts, a less-than-sparkling 2.87 GAA and a ho-hum .912 save percentage. This summer, he inked a two-year, $8.3 million deal after filing for arbitration and will be given those two years to prove he’s the stud the Leafs thought they were getting when he came over from the Kings. His numbers should improve inside a tighter, cleaner Mike Babcock system, but don't expect miracles. His big failing so far has been inconsistency, and we’re officially embracing a “show me” state of mind. He might suffice as a second twinetender in a two-goalie league, but you'd better have another option to carry the load.
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 … 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.