As mentioned yesterday, the New York Islanders are still looking to try to lock up Evgeni Nabakov. At the same time they try to do that, the team is also looking into trading for Los Angeles Kings backup Jonathan Bernier, according to Newsday. Several sources confirmed that the Islanders and Kings have began preliminary talks about a possible trade for Bernier to come to Long Island.
Islanders General Manager Garth Snow is still in talks with Nabakov about signing him to a one-year deal, but bringing in a younger Bernier could really change things up in net on the Island. As I mentioned before, age could be a factor in this decision. Nabakov is going to be 38 come the middle of July, while Bernier is 24. Of course, Bernier hasn’t gotten nearly as much playing time as Nabakov, as Bernier has been the backup to Jonathan Quick the last three seasons out in Los Angeles.
Aside from the Islanders, there are other teams that have been listed in the hunt for Bernier. So far it has been noted that the Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild and Phoenix Coyotes are also interested in Berniers’ services.
Now as far as this deal goes, the Kings are only looking for either prospects or young NHL players in return for Bernier, according to the Newsday report. One of the names that has been thrown around to head to Los Angeles in the deal is Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter has shown some potential, but who knows if he is the only person being talked about in this possible trade. As of now, it is believed that Snow will not be looking to give long-term contracts to any of the headliner goalies who will become free agents in July. That’s why getting this deal done and keeping Nabakov are going to be big for the Islanders this summer.
Bernier has played a total of 62 games over the course of five seasons and has a record of 29-20-6 with a 2.36 goals against average and a .912 save percentage with six shutouts. This deal, I think, would be a great pickup for the Islanders, depending on the asking price. If the deal is for just Nederreiter, then it could be worth it. I would love to see the Islanders not give up more than just draft picks, but I really don’t think that’s going to happen. Nederreiter put up good numbers in the minors, scoring 28 goals last year. So we know he has talent.
When it comes to the goaltending, I could see the Islanders grabbing Nabakov first. Once he gets locked up, Bernier would be nice to have in the bag as a backup. He’s got a lot of years left, and would be a really nice complement to Nabakov. With his age, Nabakov won’t really be able to play 60 games a year, so the Islanders need an injection of youth to help out. Now that’s not to say that Nabakov can’t play, because we know he can. He was a big reason the Islanders got into the playoffs. Now with it going back to a full 82-game schedule, it would be great for the Islanders to get something extra in to help out Nabakov. No disrespect to any of the other goalies in the Islanders system, but Bernier would be a very nice fit to be Nabakov’s backup.