While the Los Angeles Kings and goaltender Jonathan Quick were being propelled to the top of the hockey world during their 2012 Stanley Cup run, one thing was becoming more and more apparent—Jonathan Bernier would no longer be satisfied playing in a backup role.
After the team won the Stanley Cup and then signed Quick to a ten-year deal, the 24-year-old Bernier asked for a trade.
Bernier is the top goalie prospect on the trading block. The Kings have explored trading their backup, but they won't do so unless the trade is right. Especially with the looming lockout, there is no reason for the reigning Stanley Cup champions to force themselves into a trade.
Bernier has made a slight impression during his starts, but he doesn't have a resume that will have suitors breaking down the door to Staples Center. He has played 48 games for the Kings in four seasons, positing a 20-17-5 record with five shutouts, a 2.50 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.
Here are the best deals the Kings could get for their backup goaltender.
Toronto had major inconsistency between the pipes last year and are in need of a solid starting goaltender if they hope to make their first appearance in the playoffs since 2004.
According to the Toronto Sun, the Leafs expressed interest in Bernier this offseason:
Whether an actual offer has been made by the Leafs is not clear, but one name that has been apparently involved in trade talk is Leafs forward Matt Frattin.
Frattin is a young winger with potential, but he has not proven himself to be an established player in the NHL. The Kings are already fairly deep on both wings and would likely put Frattin in their minor league system.
If the Kings were to make a trade with the Leafs, they would need much more in return. Frattin packaged with draft picks and either James Reimer or Ben Scrivens could be enough to get a deal done.
The Blackhawks have received only slightly above-average goaltending from Corey Crawford since he took over for Antti Niemi. However, Crawford and Bernier have the same save percentage for their career (.910).
If the Blackhawks were to trade for Bernier, it would give them a lethal one-two combo in net, with one hopefully developing into a solid No. 1 option.
CSN Chicago had good insight into how the goalies could learn from each other:
When it comes down to it, Crawford and Bernier could learn a great deal from one another, as well as grow together with the team. Bernier experienced Quick's growth in Los Angeles first-hand and is able to note what it takes to (elevate) your game to an entirely new level. Crawford has gone from the backup position to the starting role and, despite his struggles last season, can provide insight and tips on what to expect when making a jump like that in your career.
Chicago could offer a variety of things that would make the Kings instantly better. Forwards David Bolland or Viktor Stalberg would be a solid return. Even defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson would be a trade the Kings would welcome. He could help fill the void left by Jack Johnson's departure, even though the Kings are fairly deep along the blue line.
Tampa Bay missed the playoffs last year, mostly due to their horrible goaltending. The Bolts had a league-worst 3.39 goals-against average last season.
On top of that, they had to watch Mike Smith, a goaltender they let go in the offseason, have a career year for the Phoenix Coyotes.
GM Steve Yzerman brought in goaltending prospect Anders Lindback from Nashville to take over, but he has a very short NHL resume.
The Lightning could use Bernier and may be willing to give up a solid veteran for him. It is questionable whether the Bolts would be willing to part with the likes of winger Martin St. Louis or Marc-Andre Bergeron, but both could be solid additions to the Kings roster. A third- or fourth-round draft pick would make the deal even sweeter for the Kings.
After the departure of Rick Nash to the Rangers in the offseason and Jeff Carter to the Kings at the trade deadline, the Blue Jackets are in rebuilding mode.
On top of that, Columbus posted the league's worst record by far, and it will probably be some time before they post a record better than .500.
Acquiring a solid starting goaltender could be the Blue Jackets' first step in getting better.
According the the Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets are interesting in bringing Bernier in:
The Blue Jackets have had recent contact with the Los Angeles Kings regarding goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The Blue Jackets might have to send the Kings' No. 1 pick in 2013 back to them to get the trade, and it could take something else. Not sure if the Kings would be willing to take on the contract of Steve Mason ($3.2 million, then RFA next summer) to facilitate a trade.
The Blue Jackets' first-round pick is worth much more than other teams. They are likely to have a bad year, and the Kings could get a great prospect with the pick. The Kings also have the option of getting back their first-round pick they gave up in the Carter deal.
Steve Mason has a pretty bad contract for a backup, but at only 24, he would probably be satisfied playing second fiddle to Quick for at least a few years. The tutelage of the Conn Smythe winner could do wonders for Mason's career and could be enough to keep him around when he is an RFA next summer.
What do you think? Will the Kings deal Bernier? Who are some other suitors who could go after the Kings backup? Let us know in the comments!