NHL Rumors: Jonathan Bernier Looking to Leave L.A.?

The Los Angeles Kings‘ Jonathan Bernier, backup goaltender to a fellow Jonathan, may be looking to leave the Kings and try to find steadier playing time in another city.

He recently made a public request to be traded not long after the other Jonathan, Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick, signed a deal to keep him as a King for another decade. But there are a few things working against him as he potentially looks for a different uniform to wear.

Chief among them is his lack of experience. Bernier played just 16 games last season, putting up a 5-6-2 record with one shutout, a 2.36 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. In fact, in his entire tenure with the Kings, he’s played just 48 games in four seasons, or a little over half one a full season. The bulk of his experience comes from the AHL and his junior years. His biggest headlines from this past season don’t even relate to his on-ice performance, but rather to a flap between him and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce over the Hollywood sign being painted on his mask. This dispute was short-lived and resulted in him being able to keep the sign as is.

The timing of the trade request may put off some potential suitors. Bernier announced his intent to leave the current Stanley Cup champions not even two months after they hoisted the Cup. That may make him look young and impetuous, angling for a starting position without having much to show for it, perhaps not knowing or not cognizant of the fact that goalie development takes time.

By contrast, look at how Cory Schneider has developed for the Vancouver Canucks: quietly, patiently, and because of Roberto Luongo‘s potential departure, ready to assume the throne. He even got some playoff experience this season–against the Kings, in fact.

Plus, Bernier is going into a paltry trade market for netminders. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t interested in using him as part of their tandem because they got Sergei Bobrovsky on draft day. Brian Burke, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, isn’t looking to add an inexperienced goalie to his roster. The Luongo talk has died down and most other teams are content with their tandems.

Bernier might not have much of a choice here. He may have to attend the very training camp he said he wanted to be traded before and suit up for the Kings, perhaps trying to focus more on the long-term view of goaltender development as opposed to short-term starting positions. Also, consider that the market will look different this time next year–when Bernier is scheduled to become a restricted free agent.

 

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