There had been rumblings that the Los Angeles Kings were ready to move young goaltender Jonathan Bernier and the Toronto Maple Leafs pounced.
Numbers Game looks at the Leafs dealing a couple of young roster players to get what they hope will be a franchise goaltender.
The Maple Leafs Get: G Jonathan Bernier.
Bernier, 24, was the 11th overall pick in the 2006 draft and started games in the NHL as early as 2007, when he was 19, but he's been stuck in a backup role with the Kings ever since. There was a time when he might have had a shot to beat out Jonathan Quick for the number one job, but those days are already in the rearview, so if Bernier was going to get an opportunity to start, it would have to be somewhere else.
In the last three seasons, playing as Quick's backup, Bernier has put up a .913 save percentage in 55 games. Among goaltenders to have handled a backup workload in that time (40-90 games played), Bernier's save percentage ranks sixth (and it's worth noting that the top three are all starters now).
So, he has the pedigree and has shown enough to this in point in his career to be ready to challenge for a starting job. That Toronto is the team looking for a starting goaltender, after James Reimer posted a .924 save percentage last season (and .923 against Boston in the first round of the playoffs) is puzzling, but there must be something that causes the Maple Leafs brass concern, since they were actually trying to trade for Miikka Kiprusoff at the trade deadline.
Over the last three seasons, Reimer has a .915 save percentage, which is tied for 18th among goalies with at least 90 games played, but it seemed that at least some of the blame for subpar numbers in 2011-2012 could be tied to a concussion suffered early in that season.
Reimer has one year, at a $1.8-million cap hit, remaining on his contract. Bernier is a restricted free agent, after making $1.25-million last season. Bernier's new contract could foreshadow the Leafs' plans in goal, but it's safe to say that Bernier, an acquisition of new GM Dave Nonis (as opposed to Reimer, whom he inherited), is likely to have an inside track to the number one job. It wouldn't come as a surprise if another goaltender-needy team turned to Toronto to ask about Reimer's availability.
In any case, the Maple Leafs now have a strong goaltending tandem, provided that the distribution of games doesn't become an overriding concern. If Bernier reaches his potential and is a 60-start goaltender with a save percentage in the .920 range, then that will be a fine return. If he's not, there will be questions about why there was a need to give up inexpensive assets when the Leafs already had a reasonably-priced goaltender coming off a strong season.
With Matt Frattin moving on, that creates an additional opening in Toronto's top nine for next season. Joe Colborne may be one forward prospect ready to move up but, since the Leafs don't have a lot of forwards ready to jump into a regular role, Frattin's departure could increase the need for a checking winger in free agency.
Frattin is a 25-year-old winger with good speed, decent hands and an improving physical game. In 82 career games, he has 15 goals and 28 points and put up relatively solid possession stats for the Leafs last season.
Frattin, who has one year remaining on a deal with a cap hit of $925,000, is a very reasonably-priced top nine forward and will be a restricted free agent next summer.
Scrivens, 26, only has 32 career NHL games under his belt, but his .910 save percentage to this point (and .924 save percentage in 94 AHL games) indicates that he's capable of being an above-average backup.
Scrivens is a bargain, at a cap hit of $612,500 next season, but will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
That second-round pick is for value down the road. There's about a 28% chance of yielding an NHL player with picks 31 through 60, and it could be five years from now before that player is even knocking on the door for an NHL job.
In the grand scheme, it may not seem that the Kings got a massive return in exchange for a highly-touted goaltender but, they got two inexpensive NHL roster players that will allow them more flexibility with the salary cap coming down for next season. Since Bernier was blocked by Quick, now and virtually forever based on his contract, it made sense to acquire quality assets in exchange now.